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ohilveti9 ohilveti9 is offline
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Default N54 buying advice - 08-28-2021, 08:23 AM

I know I'm probably asking about something which has been discussed to death but hear me out.

I have been thinking strongly at getting a 335i, a car which I have admired for years. It's quick, it has a load of mid-range torque, it's highly tunable, it's luxurious and, thanks to the wonders of depreciation, they are similarly priced to my current car. I currently own a 2013 BRZ which is fantastic on the right backroad, but at the cost of being a truly comfortable daily driver. Would I sacrifice 20% of the handling for something which is 50% nicer and way more powerful? Probably...

I have done all of the research and I know about the well documented issues with the HPFP, water pump, OFHG, waste-gate rattle, leaky injectors, etc. but also a good idea of the potential replacement costs. I also understand that once these are addressed, they don't tend to be a problem later on. I will say that I don't really know how to work on my car (though would love to learn) beyond the very basics but have good access to indepehttps://nox.tips/ https://xender.vip/
ndent BMW shops to keep maintenance costs down. It is reasonable to factor some level of maintenance when buying a used N54?

I also know a common alternative is to seek a BMW with the N55 engine which addressed many of the faults with the N54 at the expense of tunability. My aspirations for power aren't super high and I'd be happy with a tune and a few other small mods so this isn't a big issue for me. However, I am fairly set on getting a manual and in my country (Australia), an N55 335i with a manual is as rare as hens teeth (and also I prefer the looks of the pre-facelift personally). I know the 135i eventually came with an N55 too though I don't like the styling quite as much. N55 135i manuals are out there however and I am curious if anyone would recommend it as an alternative.

On a more personal note, I am still a student though I do have some savings which I am willing to put into my car. I accept that things like insurance, servicing and maintenance will be higher than my BRZ which has been faultless to run but am also weary of these expenses blowing out.

My questions are as follows:

Knowing all of the faults of the N54 but being prepared for them, will this car become a money pit?

Am I better off getting an N55 even if it means sacrificing the manual gearbox or the e92 shape?

Does this purchase make financial sense in my situation or am I better off waiting until I have a steady income to support running the car?

Any input, especially from current or previous owners, is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Last edited by ohilveti9; 09-02-2021 at 07:10 AM..
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THE BEAST THE BEAST is offline
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Default 08-28-2021, 08:12 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by ohilveti9
I know I'm probably asking about something which has been discussed to death but hear me out.

I have been thinking strongly at getting a 335i, a car which I have admired for years. It's quick, it has a load of mid-range torque, it's highly tunable, it's luxurious and, thanks to the wonders of depreciation, they are similarly priced to my current car. I currently own a 2013 BRZ which is fantastic on the right backroad, but at the cost of being a truly comfortable daily driver. Would I sacrifice 20% of the handling for something which is 50% nicer and way more powerful? Probably...

I have done all of the research and I know about the well documented issues with the HPFP, water pump, OFHG, waste-gate rattle, leaky injectors, etc. but also a good idea of the potential replacement costs. I also understand that once these are addressed, they don't tend to be a problem later on. I will say that I don't really know how to work on my car (though would love to learn) beyond the very basics but have good access to independent BMW shops to keep maintenance costs down. It is reasonable to factor some level of maintenance when buying a used N54?

I also know a common alternative is to seek a BMW with the N55 engine which addressed many of the faults with the N54 at the expense of tunability. My aspirations for power aren't super high and I'd be happy with a tune and a few other small mods so this isn't a big issue for me. However, I am fairly set on getting a manual and in my country (Australia), an N55 335i with a manual is as rare as hens teeth (and also I prefer the looks of the pre-facelift personally). I know the 135i eventually came with an N55 too though I don't like the styling quite as much. N55 135i manuals are out there however and I am curious if anyone would recommend it as an alternative.

On a more personal note, I am still a student though I do have some savings which I am willing to put into my car. I accept that things like insurance, servicing and maintenance will be higher than my BRZ which has been faultless to run but am also weary of these expenses blowing out.

My questions are as follows:

Knowing all of the faults of the N54 but being prepared for them, will this car become a money pit?

Am I better off getting an N55 even if it means sacrificing the manual gearbox or the e92 shape?

Does this purchase make financial sense in my situation or am I better off waiting until I have a steady income to support running the car?

Any input, especially from current or previous owners, is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
Buy a car with low miles already set up the way you want. It will actually be cheaper for you in the long run.
Say a N54 with turbos upgraded, which would most likely have hpfp swapped already, FBO, plugs, coils, index 12s etc already done....
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zach1328 zach1328 is offline
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Default 08-29-2021, 03:49 AM

I will try to control myself, but I could easily write 10 pages on this topic. Let's see if I can do an OK job at short-handing some info.

First, I think it's important to address the N54 vs N55 topic. Many do consider the N55 as the more reliable engine. However, it's not totally true as of the current days. The biggest improvements were the HPFP, injectors, and waste-gate rattle. Most N54's on the road today should have a pretty reliable HPFP and if you find a car with index 11 or 12 injectors then you're good to go. I'd play it safe with index 12's.

The N54 and N55 otherwise suffer from many of the same reliability concerns, and that list can be pretty lengthy. Here's some maintenance I would consider almost a requirement at 10+ years old and 100,000+ miles:

Oil Leaks - Valve cover, oil filter housing, oil pan gasket

Cooling system - water pump, thermostat, expansion tank, cooling fan, radiator, and coolant hoses (essentially the entire cooling system)

Walnut blast - Good idea to do this immediately if it's never been done. Build-up will be pretty significant on most engines at 100k+ miles. Not a huge concern for reliability or longevity, but can cause very noticeable drivability and performance problems.

Belt & pulley - You don't want the serpentine belt to snap, so I'd replace these parts if it hasn't been done in the past

O2 sensors - 4 of them on the N54. Common for them to start going bad north of 120,000 miles. Good maintenance to avoid running lean.

VANOS solenoids - Some last for a long time, but I'd personally want to see these replaced by 120,000 miles

Turbochargers - The N54 stock turbos can be very reliable, but too many have been pushing more than 2x stock boost. They may run for a while but chances are these turbos are tired and losing power and performance north of 100-120k miles

Suspension - Again, this is an age related thing. Suspension components are going to be tired on 10+ year old cars. If you want optimal performance you should consider "coilovers", M3 control arms, and other suspension parts that need refreshing.

It's late at night so I'm sure I am missing a few maintenance items. Most of this stuff can simply be replaced when things fail. However, there's a lot of overlap in labor so if you're not much of a DIY'er then I'd recommend knocking things out in chunks. This can leave you spending a lot of money within a single trip to the shop. It can save a lot of money in labor, though.

Regarding your financial situation. I bought my '07 335i back in college when funds were tight. We're talking 2014 so the car was still relatively new with only 70,000 miles when I picked it up. I'd do it 100x over again, but these cars are older now.

I spent about $5,000 in preventative maintenance on my 335i in 2019. Another $5,000 on some suspension upgrades and basically a full refresh of anything that was not upgraded. Pretty much did everything I listed above.

A few months later I blew the stock turbos on 19-20psi thanks to a boost leak (my fault). $2,200 for upgraded twins and $1,000 of install later I had an amazing car. Except it was out of fueling on a light E85 mix, so I found myself spending another $2,500 on a port injection and dual walbro LPFP setup.

All of these expenses were outside of the $1,500 I spent on Index 12's, $1,500 on a water pump, tstat, and expansion tank. A few other minor issues along the way that cost a few hundred here and there. Then of course tuning and the basic bolt-on mods that were another $1,500+.

It's been almost 8 years since I first bought my N54. I now own a $10,000 car that has about $23,000 in repairs, preventative maintenance, and mods. Add in tires, brakes, oil changes, spark plugs, etc and I very well might be $30,000 deep. I would do it again 100x over without a doubt in my mind. I love my N54 and I intend to own it for the long haul. Ever since I spent all the money on the car it's been extremely reliable and powerful. Incredibly fun car to own.

Anyways, I can't tell you whether or not an N54 is the right purchase for you. It was absolutely the right decision for me, but it's been a costly one. If I were looking to buy the car today while I were still in college it would be a harder decision. These cars are old and require some TLC. I'd try to find one that has all of the basic preventative maintenance done, and pray you don't run into many problems. These can be reliable engines, but given their age it can also take a lot of money to get them there. Overall, my N54 has been pretty reliable and most money I spent was on preventative maintenance. I simply didn't want to deal with multiple failures a year and spending weekends out in the garage. As such, I said f*** it and spent a chunk of money to get the car where it is today.


2007 335i - JB4 + MHD BEF, RB Twos Plus, PI + Stage 3 LPFP, 100% E85, BMS DCI, VRSF **, VRSF 7.5" FMIC, VRSF CP w/ TiAL BOV, MMP inlets, VRSF aluminum outlets, XHP Stage 3, TC Kline SA, M3 F/R control arms
2008 535i
N54

Last edited by zach1328; 08-29-2021 at 04:33 AM..
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THE BEAST THE BEAST is offline
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Default 08-29-2021, 01:19 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by zach1328
I will try to control myself, but I could easily write 10 pages on this topic. Let's see if I can do an OK job at short-handing some info.

First, I think it's important to address the N54 vs N55 topic. Many do consider the N55 as the more reliable engine. However, it's not totally true as of the current days. The biggest improvements were the HPFP, injectors, and waste-gate rattle. Most N54's on the road today should have a pretty reliable HPFP and if you find a car with index 11 or 12 injectors then you're good to go. I'd play it safe with index 12's.

The N54 and N55 otherwise suffer from many of the same reliability concerns, and that list can be pretty lengthy. Here's some maintenance I would consider almost a requirement at 10+ years old and 100,000+ miles:

Oil Leaks - Valve cover, oil filter housing, oil pan gasket

Cooling system - water pump, thermostat, expansion tank, cooling fan, radiator, and coolant hoses (essentially the entire cooling system)

Walnut blast - Good idea to do this immediately if it's never been done. Build-up will be pretty significant on most engines at 100k+ miles. Not a huge concern for reliability or longevity, but can cause very noticeable drivability and performance problems.

Belt & pulley - You don't want the serpentine belt to snap, so I'd replace these parts if it hasn't been done in the past

O2 sensors - 4 of them on the N54. Common for them to start going bad north of 120,000 miles. Good maintenance to avoid running lean.

VANOS solenoids - Some last for a long time, but I'd personally want to see these replaced by 120,000 miles

Turbochargers - The N54 stock turbos can be very reliable, but too many have been pushing more than 2x stock boost. They may run for a while but chances are these turbos are tired and losing power and performance north of 100-120k miles

Suspension - Again, this is an age related thing. Suspension components are going to be tired on 10+ year old cars. If you want optimal performance you should consider "coilovers", M3 control arms, and other suspension parts that need refreshing.

It's late at night so I'm sure I am missing a few maintenance items. Most of this stuff can simply be replaced when things fail. However, there's a lot of overlap in labor so if you're not much of a DIY'er then I'd recommend knocking things out in chunks. This can leave you spending a lot of money within a single trip to the shop. It can save a lot of money in labor, though.

Regarding your financial situation. I bought my '07 335i back in college when funds were tight. We're talking 2014 so the car was still relatively new with only 70,000 miles when I picked it up. I'd do it 100x over again, but these cars are older now.

I spent about $5,000 in preventative maintenance on my 335i in 2019. Another $5,000 on some suspension upgrades and basically a full refresh of anything that was not upgraded. Pretty much did everything I listed above.

A few months later I blew the stock turbos on 19-20psi thanks to a boost leak (my fault). $2,200 for upgraded twins and $1,000 of install later I had an amazing car. Except it was out of fueling on a light E85 mix, so I found myself spending another $2,500 on a port injection and dual walbro LPFP setup.

All of these expenses were outside of the $1,500 I spent on Index 12's, $1,500 on a water pump, tstat, and expansion tank. A few other minor issues along the way that cost a few hundred here and there. Then of course tuning and the basic bolt-on mods that were another $1,500+.

It's been almost 8 years since I first bought my N54. I now own a $10,000 car that has about $23,000 in repairs, preventative maintenance, and mods. Add in tires, brakes, oil changes, spark plugs, etc and I very well might be $30,000 deep. I would do it again 100x over without a doubt in my mind. I love my N54 and I intend to own it for the long haul. Ever since I spent all the money on the car it's been extremely reliable and powerful. Incredibly fun car to own.

Anyways, I can't tell you whether or not an N54 is the right purchase for you. It was absolutely the right decision for me, but it's been a costly one. If I were looking to buy the car today while I were still in college it would be a harder decision. These cars are old and require some TLC. I'd try to find one that has all of the basic preventative maintenance done, and pray you don't run into many problems. These can be reliable engines, but given their age it can also take a lot of money to get them there. Overall, my N54 has been pretty reliable and most money I spent was on preventative maintenance. I simply didn't want to deal with multiple failures a year and spending weekends out in the garage. As such, I said f*** it and spent a chunk of money to get the car where it is today.
This was exactly my point.
So say you sold your car for 25k, most would not want to pay that amount regardless of the money that has been dumped into it. At the same time, it would actually be a deal for anyone that wants to save some money and is looking for an all maintenance done, turn key , fast car.
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zach1328 zach1328 is offline
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Default 08-29-2021, 04:14 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by THE BEAST
This was exactly my point.
So say you sold your car for 25k, most would not want to pay that amount regardless of the money that has been dumped into it. At the same time, it would actually be a deal for anyone that wants to save some money and is looking for an all maintenance done, turn key , fast car.
Yeah some patience while searching can go a long way. Most people like myself probably wouldn't even consider selling. I'd never get the money back out of it, and it's too fun of a car for me to sell.

That said, some people are simply ready to move onto a newer platform or are desperate to sell for whatever various reasons. The OP's best bet would be waiting for one of these sellers with a car that has basically everything done. They can be tough to come across depending on location, though.


2007 335i - JB4 + MHD BEF, RB Twos Plus, PI + Stage 3 LPFP, 100% E85, BMS DCI, VRSF **, VRSF 7.5" FMIC, VRSF CP w/ TiAL BOV, MMP inlets, VRSF aluminum outlets, XHP Stage 3, TC Kline SA, M3 F/R control arms
2008 535i
N54
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THE BEAST THE BEAST is offline
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Default 08-29-2021, 06:37 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by zach1328
Yeah some patience while searching can go a long way. Most people like myself probably wouldn't even consider selling. I'd never get the money back out of it, and it's too fun of a car for me to sell.

That said, some people are simply ready to move onto a newer platform or are desperate to sell for whatever various reasons. The OP's best bet would be waiting for one of these sellers with a car that has basically everything done. They can be tough to come across depending on location, though.
Same. We have similar mods and even my undercarriage is spotless. Wheels, LSD, axles, list goes on and on...only reason I won't sell is beacause of lowballers.
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50fps 50fps is offline
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Default 08-30-2021, 05:56 PM

The above posts provide a lot of information.

The only advice I can offer is find one that hasn't been messed with by someone that has no clue on what they are doing. Preferably one that some rich old lady used to run to the country club on occasion.
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