Car News:  Oversteer

Here's Why You Should Never Ever Buy a Cheap Used BMW 7 Series

RELATED READING
See all BMW 760Li articles
RESEARCH BY MAKE
Honda cars, trucks and SUVs Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs
Acura cars, trucks and SUVs Alfa Romeo cars, trucks and SUVs AMC cars, trucks and SUVs Aston Martin cars, trucks and SUVs Audi cars, trucks and SUVs Bentley cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Bugatti cars, trucks and SUVs Buick cars, trucks and SUVs Cadillac cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Chrysler cars, trucks and SUVs Daewoo cars, trucks and SUVs Datsun cars, trucks and SUVs DeLorean cars, trucks and SUVs Dodge cars, trucks and SUVs Eagle cars, trucks and SUVs Ferrari cars, trucks and SUVs FIAT cars, trucks and SUVs Fisker cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Freightliner cars, trucks and SUVs Genesis cars, trucks and SUVs Geo cars, trucks and SUVs GMC cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs HUMMER cars, trucks and SUVs Hyundai cars, trucks and SUVs INFINITI cars, trucks and SUVs Isuzu cars, trucks and SUVs Jaguar cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Karma cars, trucks and SUVs Kia cars, trucks and SUVs Lamborghini cars, trucks and SUVs Land Rover cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Lincoln cars, trucks and SUVs Lotus cars, trucks and SUVs Maserati cars, trucks and SUVs Maybach cars, trucks and SUVs MAZDA cars, trucks and SUVs McLaren cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs Mercury cars, trucks and SUVs MINI cars, trucks and SUVs Mitsubishi cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Oldsmobile cars, trucks and SUVs Plymouth cars, trucks and SUVs Pontiac cars, trucks and SUVs Porsche cars, trucks and SUVs RAM cars, trucks and SUVs Rolls-Royce cars, trucks and SUVs Saab cars, trucks and SUVs Saturn cars, trucks and SUVs Scion cars, trucks and SUVs smart cars, trucks and SUVs SRT cars, trucks and SUVs Subaru cars, trucks and SUVs Suzuki cars, trucks and SUVs Tesla cars, trucks and SUVs Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Volvo cars, trucks and SUVs Yugo cars, trucks and SUVs
RESEARCH BY STYLE
AWD/4WD
Commercial
Convertible
Coupe
Hatchback
Hybrid/Electric
Luxury
Sedan
SUV/Crossover
Truck
Van/Minivan
Wagon
ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Tyler Hoover February 2020

It's official: I'm at the end of my rope with my cheap 2008 BMW 760Li. When I purchased this flagship V12 sedan for only $4,500 and didn't spend a ridiculous amount fixing all of its issues, I thought I had finally found an older modern BMW worth owning. Then it broke on its first road trip, and then it broke again shortly thereafter -- and while they weren't obscenely expensive repairs, they were pretty annoying. Now I'm faced with a looming repair that almost exceeds the value of the car -- and even more surprising is that one of my friends, who is well aware of my misery, decided to buy an old 7 Series that's even worse than mine.

Before I go into shaming my friend for sharing my stupidity, though, let's go over everything that's happened in the six months that I've owned this 760. I purchased this opulent sedan at a wholesale auction after it was traded in to a Toyota dealer -- and based on the car's needs, I can totally understand why the previous owner went rushing into the arms of Japanese reliability. Still, it was only $4,500 -- less than 5 percent of its original MSRP -- and it drove well enough and was in decent cosmetic condition. After driving it to a BMW specialist for an inspection, none of the repairs were too out of the ordinary for a 10-year-old car either -- except thanks to BMW engineering, they were way more complicated than they needed to be. The valve cover gaskets, for example, required removing the intake, which bills at 16 hours of labor. Add that to the tune-up, brakes and other miscellaneous items, and I spent $3,000 to fully sort this 760. Not bad, I thought.

Unfortunately, the first trip after the repairs brought the car to its knees after the wiring failed at one of the mass airflow sensors, which wouldn't have been a big deal except it took away all throttle response from the car when I was 400 miles away from home -- the dreaded limp-home mode. I managed to get home, and the wiring repair was simple enough -- but not long after, I noticed new oil leaks. Additionally, the airbag light had popped on -- so back it went for the driver's seat to be torn apart for the occupancy sensor, as well as for another seal for the engine. The cost of these repairs was less than $1,000, and because I'm used to having a few rounds of repairs to sort out neglected auction cars, I was happy to give this BMW another chance.

The honeymoon didn't last long, though -- or really at all -- because this BMW's fuel pumps are now beginning to leak into the evaporative emissions system. I'm told that this will eventually clog the system with fuel, triggering a check engine light, and mess with the fuel pressure enough to make this car hard to start -- until the engine doesn't want to run at all. Like a terminal illness diagnosis, my mechanic doesn't know whether the pumps will last a few months or another year, but they will fail eventually. This wouldn't be the end of the world if BMW didn't want more than $5,000 for the pair. Yes, five thousand dollars for a pair of fuel pumps.

In essence, this single part mechanically totals my BMW -- a car that I once praised for not having engineering defects like other BMW cars with similar disastrous consequences. So while the 760Li doesn't have weak copper rod bearings like the V10 BMW M5 and others or similarly devastating failures such as bad timing chain guides or valve stem seals, BMW chose to take its most reliable engine and saddle it with a part that costs the same as tearing apart one of its unreliable engines.

These complicated high-pressure fuel pumps, which are needed for the direct-injection fuel system, are the latest common headache among BMW and Mini owners, but the 760 is unique because it has two separate fuel rails, which are run by this pair of very expensive pumps. As much as I like the way this 760Li drives, with its quiet and powerful acceleration curve, almost like an electric-powered vehicle, and all the comforts of a flagship BMW, I don't like it enough to spend another $5,000 for fuel pumps.

So I've decided that while the car is still running well enough and isn't showing any warning lights for the first time since I purchased it, I'm going to dump it at the same wholesale auction from which I bought it. I don't expect it to bring much more than what I paid for it, given most people don't go to the auctions looking for terrible cars to buy, like I do. Still, this makes much more sense financially than spending $5,000, plus labor, on a car to replace its fuel pumps and then maybe get $6,000 from a private-party sale when it's all done. Keeping it would likely feel like a car payment in itself, too, as the inevitable repairs coming after this latest round will continue.

It has me curious, though, as to why BMW would price its fuel pumps so far out of the realm of sanity with its direct-injection cars. I suspect that we'll see a whole new generation of BMW products with otherwise good powertrains thrown away because of this -- unless someone from the aftermarket starts offering an alternative. This isn't the first time that a car I've owned has failed to prove my hypothesis and make me look like an idiot, though. And, speaking of idiots, I'm always surprised when I find that my loyal viewers -- and my close friends -- think it's a good idea to follow in my footsteps.

The most glaring recent example of this is my good friend Rob, who thought it was a good idea to buy the cheapest Alpina B7 in the U.S. -- even though he doesn't have a YouTube channel with enough enablers to justify his bad decisions. He did do some smart things beforehand, though -- he took the car to a BMW dealer for a prepurchase inspection, but figuring out misfires and other detailed issues from a cursory inspection doesn't always paint the whole picture.

The inspection reported that the BMW was misfiring, but the reason turned out to be disastrous. This once 500-hp, beautifully styled, $115,000 luxury sedan was brought to its knees by the same thing that plagues most BMW V8s of the era: failed valve stem seals, which allow engine oil into the combustion chamber. Replacing the spark plug that was fouled with engine oil fixed the misfire, but now it's igniting the engine oil, sending a thick cloud of smoke out the exhaust. Repairing this costs nearly as much as the fuel pumps on my 760Li, which wouldn't be the end of the world considering that my friend purchased the car for only $3,500 -- but there are plenty of other mechanical issues and missing parts.

Thankfully, he's smart enough to know when to punt a lost cause. Unfortunately, I'm not smart enough to avoid catching the ball. It's an Alpina B7 for only $3,500! There's no way that I could resist that. Find a BMW 7 Series for sale

MORE FROM OVERSTEER
Video | Tyler Hoover and Doug DeMuro Discuss the Best Used Car Under $5,000
You Should Probably Buy a Honda Civic Type R Since They're Going for Less Than $30k
Autotrader Find: Low-Mile Honda S2000 CR for $58,000

We use cookies and browser activity to improve your experience, personalize content and ads, and analyze how our sites are used. For more information on how we collect and use this information, please review our Privacy Policy. California consumers may exercise their CCPA rights here.
This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Here's Why You Should Never Ever Buy a Cheap Used BMW 7 Series - Autotrader
×