Used i3 advice

Discussion in 'i3' started by JyChevyVolt, Jan 31, 2018.

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  2. Not exactly if there is any issue that's peculiar to the i3 to look for...low mileage is always pretty attractive to me, so I'd prefer the 2nd listing with only 28,371 miles on it.
  3. JyChevyVolt

    JyChevyVolt Active Member

    The first one is full option with technology package.
    Domenick likes this.
  4. I posted your question in the BMW i3 Owner's Group and have only received this response so far: "2015 or newer seems to be the general consensus"

    Not sure what the problem is with earlier ones that wouldn't be fixed under warranty (they had a motor mount problem or something, I believe), but will try to look around.
  5. ...and I just got another reply that said, "I'm not sure the year matters. All years seem to be getting drive train errors."

    So, it seems like some people are having some issue, but I haven't seen this mentioned in my casual perusing of the group in the past, so it's probably rare.
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  7. JyChevyVolt

    JyChevyVolt Active Member

    There seems to lots of A/C problems with the i3. I think I'll skip the i3. The search continues.

    Also, excessive tire cost.
    Domenick likes this.
  8. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web Well-Known Member Subscriber

    FYI, this is my 'go to' forum about our 2014 BMW i3-REx. Membership is free and the regulars are newbie welcoming.

    I bought a 2014 BMW i3-REx, end of lease, in May 2016. But if I had to replace it today, I would go with a 2015-2016 BMW i3-REx because that model year would have 2-3 years of product improvements. As Consumer Reports claims, the first model year of any car is going to have the greatest number of 'infantile problems.' So when you go to the BMW i3 forum, you'll find most of the problems are with the first model year, 2014.

    Using your search engine, I found about half a dozen 2015 for ~$19-23k around the country. This is about $10k cheaper than the $29.9k I paid a year ago last May. BTW, the dynamic cruise control is well worth it. Don't buy one without it.

    Regardless, GOOD LUCK!
    Bob Wilson
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2018
    Domenick likes this.
  9. JyChevyVolt

    JyChevyVolt Active Member

    Thanks Bob
  10. Had a couple more respons"es that you might find interesting (or maybe not, I dunno) that I thought I might as well include here for anyone else looking at the i3.
    "Drivetrain error can be caused by many factors. I had a drivetrain error, due to a poorly manufactured 15 amp cooling fan fuse that went bad. BMW replaced the fuse and all is fine."
    "The wider rear tires (175) and wheels (5.5") can be fit on the front, but only with spacers (15 mm??).

    The 2018 i3S has 20 mm wider tires and 0.5" wider wheels (only 20"), but these wheels probably have a different offset from those on non-S versions. The body also has fender flares to accommodate the resulting greater track. I haven't read about whether the i3S wheels and tires would fit on non-S versions.

    What about regen? Its maximum regen power is greater than on many EV's. There are no maximum regen power settings or regen paddles. Regen power is controlled by the position of the power pedal which I think works very well and intuitively, but can take a bit of practice to perfect smooth driving (EcoPro mode helps)."
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  12. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web Well-Known Member Subscriber


    Having owned a 2014 BMW i3-REx since May 2015, let me add some personal experience:
    • "Drivetrain error" - I've had two incidents. The first was on the pickup trip from Charlotte NC to Huntsville AL. It came on shortly after 6PM on Friday evening on the drive home. Not really having a choice, I drove home and it cleared about 50-60 miles later. I took the car to BMW the next week and the local shop upgraded the software and fixed various things I'd hoped to have corrected before I picked up the car. Two tires were replaced under warranty and I bought the other two ~$290. The second happened three months ago when it would come on if I accelerated 'BMW i3-REx' style or a quick turn and turned off the REx. It turns out the oil level was low and there is no, low oil pressure light or gauge. The oil level was low. In effect, "drivetrain error" is a generic idiot light.
    • "tires" - the front and rear tires are different tread widths. A front tire can be mounted on the rear but rear tires can not be mounted on the front without rubbing (I have not verified this, yet.) Tires remain something I want to address because of the expense, ~$135/ea., asymmetric tread depths of new tires (i.e., lower on inside than outside,) and abysmal negative camber. So I am waiting until the 5 year, manufacturer warranty is done before starting my self-maintenance. I have no interest in the 'i3S' tires.
    • "regen" - the vast majority of my driving is on dynamic cruise control using hand controls versus manual. Also, growing up with manual transmissions, I am comfortable with shifting into "N" but that is me. Still, when I take others for test drives, we first do some 'parking lot' tests so they are not surprised on the street. Note I love the car will come to a complete stop and not 'creep'. I hate the 'creep' and use "N" when stopped if possible in our Prius Prime.
    • 'documentation' - I am a member of a Prius and BMW i3 forum to find the undocumented features. For example, 10 days ago someone posted that the BMW i3 REx gas cover release is a "push and hold", not a simple push button. For the past year and a half I have used the manual override, plastic pull release when the cover did not unlock fast enough. Similar 'Easter Eggs' have been in every computer controlled car I've owned since 2005.
    The BMW i3-REx is not the perfect car for everyone nor is our Prius Prime. But they work for me and my family.

    Bob Wilson
    Pushmi-Pullyu and Domenick like this.
  13. sipabit

    sipabit Member

    I'm a bit of a research nut. A few comments regarding the original questions about the listing. But first the issue about regen for senior citizens. Nevermind senior citizens, the regen is drastic enough (in fact the most noticeable of any EV out there now) that it could easily be a make it or brake it issue with the car. You might literally skip the car b/c you don't like the way the regen drives.

    Note that in COMFORT mode, it'll be the most aggressive. In ECO PRO mode, it'll cost more and the slowing of the car won't be as drastic. In ECO PRO+, it'll be even less drastic. It does take some very conscious effort through and a bit of a learning curve to decelerate smoothly. You can't just let go of the gas pedal like a gas vehicle. You have to feather it to slow smoothy, and with effort.
  14. sipabit

    sipabit Member

    I noticed the listings are gone, so I'll make a few general notes about buying used. I recently went through all this, so it's all fresh in my head:

    • The drop in price comes from the mileage moreso than the year.
    • I'd avoid 2014 for a few reasons: It was the first model. You never want the first model if you can help it. There's bugs to work out and they've been worked out in the newer models. The older the car, the less warranty left on the vehicle. Most people don't buy EV's for good reason. We take a risk buying one, but it's typically worth it for most people when you're getting it at 50% discount.
    • 2015 currently has the most inventory. Lots of lease returns. Seems like the sweet spot. 2015 is when they made DC charging capability standard. That's a function you'll want.
    • The prices vary b/c of the packages that it includes or doesn't include. Compare apples to apples. If the listing doesn't tell you clearly what packages are included, looks for a few things: steering wheel buttons. The left side buttons will either have buttons on the far right of the left side (confused yet?) or it won't. If it does, it has the Driver's assist package. If there's a P button on the center console in FRONT of the parking brake, that's the button for the "Parking Assist package". The Harmon Kardon package will be obvious from presence or absence of the speakers on the corners of the front dash on left/right sides.
    • The rim style tells you what "world" is on inside. See enough of the Mega, Giga and Terra worlds and you'll notice a theme with the rim styles being a giveaway of what the interior looks like. Become a pro in that and you won't have to scroll through all the links to cars you know you don't like the interior of.
    • 30k miles is considered very high for a 2015 i3. You want something in the 20k's or less. i3's are typically the first buyer's second car or they just drive it around the city. Avoid stuff that has 30k or more miles in 2018 when shopping for a 2015 car unless you're getting a substantial deal and it has all the packages you want. One of the cheapest i3's I've ever seen listed was shy of $16k. It had all the packages, all but it had 46k miles on it and it was a 2014 model. There's a lot more value in paying 4k more with half the miles and 1 year newer at the expense of losing a package.
    • CPO cars are priced surprisingly low too. Not just private sales like with most cars.
    • Maintenance warranty does NOT transfer to the new owner w/o paying the $700 transfer fee (in California at least). CPO gives you 1 additional year of manufacturer's warranty beyond the initial 4 years.
    • The truth about the warranty on the battery? It's 8 years. It's in the manual.
    JyChevyVolt likes this.
  15. Apexerman

    Apexerman Member

    I'm actually loving the regen, one-pedal operation. I can understand how those who aren't familiar with the function could find it off-putting. I'm actually learning to feather the pedal more accurately, but it would be nice to manually select the amount of regeneration regardless of mode (similar to the VW e-Golf). I'll have give the ECO PRO regen operation a shot...haven't tried yet.
  16. sipabit

    sipabit Member

    Give it a try. You'll find it coasts a low further. In ECO PRO+, even more so. If you hack the i3, you can get it to start in ECO PRO by default rather than in COMFORT (which I call SPORT).
  17. Apexerman

    Apexerman Member

    Hmm, well I tried the regen in ECO PRO and ECO PRO+ and I didn't really notice a difference. In fact, it felt basically the same. It's not a major problem though. I think BMW did a masterful job of balancing throttle input. Responsiveness is quite linear relative to pedal travel. I do notice, however, passengers dipping forward if I let off too soon. I carefully modulate the throttle to reduce heavy regen. This is where an alternate level might be nice in those situations. But by myself, aggressive is good.
  18. Viking79

    Viking79 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for this post, I am looking at 2014 to 2016 BMW i3 REx cars, great prices on them. I drove a BEV in 2014 during the cross country drive event they had and wanted an EV ever since. I bought my used 2012 Volt a month later and picked up a Clarity PHEV this year. Now I am looking to replace my Volt with something in a year or so that isn't too expensive as I like to switch cars a lot. Enter i3 REx ;)

    Kind of curious which options to avoid. I have decided on color and features. REx isn't critical, but would make the vehicle more useful should I want to drive a longer distance (we have the other car so can always use it). I will keep the Volt too, probably go to my kid when he is old enough to drive.
  19. Apexerman

    Apexerman Member

    Thanks for the post, Viking. I'm not sure which options you would necessarily avoid, but I'd lean toward the REx model even if you've got backup transportation. The convenience of knowing the generator is there to cover lack of juice is worthwhile. Even if you don't use it often, it will come in handy for longer trips. My wife and I are planning to take 200+ mile trip next month and we've got the Chargepoint locations already mapped out for the drive. And if for some reason we get low on electricity, gas stations are always available.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2018
  20. sipabit

    sipabit Member

    The disadvantage of the REX is that you still have spark plugs and oil to change. The purpose of an electric vehicle really is to avoid all that jazz from a gas vehicle. So as long as you know what you're getting into, do it. I did. I got the REX b/c I drive long distances daily and didn't want to rely on having to charge at my destination each and every single time. Ideally though, it would've had the range for all electric.

    As far as options to avoid, there aren't really any. You'll find that many cars don't have the Driver's Assistant package. It's not super rare and is out there, but most car that have only one package will be the Parking Assist package. Even more rare is the Harmon Kardon sound system. I'm not much of a music nut but i still would've wanted it if it was available for my car. I have the rare Value+ Package from April-June of 2016 which pretty much dumbs down a few things. No LED headlights for me and no Driver's Assist package, but at least I got the interior I really wanted.
  21. Apexerman

    Apexerman Member

    Agreed. I don't need earth-shaking sound, but the limitations of a two speaker sound system are apparent. In fact, I didn't think manufacturers did that anymore, but there it is... left and right only. Shades of my early 80's Honda came to mind... LOL. Still, I'm thoroughly pleased with our machine and the low mileage overrode any concerns about lack of features. Is it wrong to want two of these cars?
  22. JyChevyVolt

    JyChevyVolt Active Member

    I want to give an update. I was originally looking to get the i3 for Mom. Someone crashed into my mom's car. I've decided to trade my Volt for my brother's Sonata.

    The Volt goes to my brother.
    The Sonata goes to my mom (Apartment dweller).

    Option #1
    I buy a used 2015 i3 Rex. You can tell the trim by looking at the rim. I have no problem with strong regeneration. Regeneration is like coffee, the stronger the better.

    Option #2
    I buy the new Outlander phev for wife and drive her Honda Clarity.
    -$5.8k federal
    -$1.5k state rebate

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