Apps aren't just for monitoring your used buy's vital signs - they can help your car realise its full potential as well
25 September 2018

In case you hadn’t noticed, the world has turned into one big app.

Websites are so last century: it’s all about apps that do things and that means you can do exciting things to your car’s brain. Up until recently, you needed to visit a garage for that; unless you had mates in the trade, you paid for that digital access. Now, though, you can get all sorts of clever boxes of tricks. You can interrogate, fault find and, I noticed recently, even reprogramme and unlock extra performance using your mobile.

I wouldn’t recommend mucking about with vehicles under warranty, but once the cover has expired, all bets are off. It isn’t just performance: you should be able to mess with the fuel economy and make it better.

That makes me think that I should be looking at those BMW oil-burners (2003-2009) in the classifieds that no one else wants and then start apping.

I’ll start at the bottom with a 1 Series and, with £2800 to spend, I’ll get a 2007 2.0 118d SE with 100,000 miles and a full service history. Never mind that it’s silver. Hold on, I’ve also stumbled across a blue one with more miles that is £50 cheaper, so everything is out there. Indeed, why buy a sensible four-door hatch when my favourite 3 Series from 2005 is available as a 320Cd Sport at £3000 and forgivably metallic grey? It looked rather M3 to me too.

Find a used BMW 1 Series on PistonHeads

Next up would be an M5-alike. I’ll raise my stupidly low budget, of course: a more solid £3500 would bag me a 2006 530 M Sport with 147,000 miles. It would certainly be fun making that go even faster.

The next size up is a Seven, and a 2008 730d Sport with 90,000 miles is just £6999. I don’t think we need a long-wheelbase version, unless we spend any quality time in the rear.

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Perhaps we need to go off-road. In that case, a 2005 X5 3.0d Sport is £5000 with 100,000 miles and wears a set of 19in M Sport alloys too. There are some nasty-looking ‘murder’ spec ones, but this one just seemed fully loaded and quite classy. It is just another BMW waiting to be chipped, without actually needing open- bonnet surgery.

You read it here first: the future of used car care is an app. Just wait for the warranty to expire first.

What we almost bought this week: 

Volvo V90 - The last of the old brick-style Volvo estates really does look the part, with an updated nose, clear indicators and smart metallic paint colours. Under the bonnet, you’ll find a creamy-smooth multi-valve six-pot engine, while inside is a remarkably lavish interior that’s the match of any other 1990s luxobarge’s. A tidy one can be yours for just £2000.

Tales from Ruppert’s garage: 

BMW 320, mileage: 81,054: I’ve had a set of locking wheel nuts for these Alpina beauties for months now but haven’t had the time to fit them. Seriously, I barely have enough minutes to undo one old nut and then replace it with one of these fancy, thief-proof ones. The thing is, I have written this before I have actually carried out the nutty procedure. I did it on the basis that I’ll just have to get on with the job. That reminds me: I still haven’t told you about the unsatisfactory in-car entertainment and the fact that actually getting the engine to start is a test of endurance.

I need to stop writing and start doing.

A-Z bangerpedia: 

Rover 25 Streetwise: The 25 was outclassed and outdated even when new but, as the years passed, it became okay to drive and was well finished with a good choice of engines. Most of all, though, we adored the Streetwise variant that now seems remarkably prescient in its SUV pretensions. It is the model that might have saved Rover. You can now buy a post-Rover-registered 2006 2.0 TD SE with 140,000 miles for £995. Bargain.

Readers’ questions: 

Q. I have been thinking about buying a used automatic due to arthritis but was told they’re less fuel efficient. Is that true? Anne Davies, Solihull

A. Yes and no. It varies from model to model, but there are many modern autos that are as good as – if not better than – their manual equivalents on fuel. Try looking at the dual-clutch automatics from Volkswagen, Audi, Seat and Skoda, or more traditional torque-converter autos from BMW, among others. AR

Q. I’ve got £10k to spend on a used soft-top. Should I choose an Audi TT, BMW 1 Series convertible or Mazda MX-5? George Avery, via email

A.  Unless you need four seats, I’d take the TT. But have a go in an MX-5 first, just to check you don't prefer it. AR

Q. Should we replace our old Subaru Legacy Outback with a more modern version or try something else? Jonathan Stock, Peterborough

A. If you need to go off-road regularly, a more modern Outback is probably the best bet. However, if you don’t, the Skoda Octavia Scout is better value and more comfortable. The Seat Leon X-Perience is surprisingly good too. AR

Read more

BMW 1 Series review

Mazda MX-5 review

Used car buying guide: Jaguar XJS

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Comments
12

25 September 2018

Title implies this is about a phone app then give no info or examples etc. Turns out it's just another waste of time click bait cut 'n' paste cars sales ramble.

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

25 September 2018
xxxx wrote:

Title implies this is about a phone app then give no info or examples etc. Turns out it's just another waste of time click bait cut 'n' paste cars sales ramble.

Agreed.   This article is very misleading.

 

I used a couple of different devices to help diagnose my BMW.   I'd bought an OBD II scanner tool that gave me basic information and I was able to pass that on to the BMW garage to get some fixes done.   First time it was an injector in cylinder 4 that was the problem.   Later another problem was I was getting an intermittant fault, which BMW claimed was the high pressure fuel pump.   Both expensive items to fix. 

I then started to get the occassional hick-up.   So put in the high octane fuel and that solved it for a time.   Went back to regular fuel after a month and it was running dreadfully.   The hand scanner just couldn't diagnose.   Even swapping to a PC based system wasn't helping too much.   So it had to go to BMW.

 

At my BMW service centre they first decided it was a "low pressure fuel sensor" and they wanted to change it, which I paid to have done.   Then the "CO2 sensor" on the exhaust they wanted, and again I paid for it to be changed over.    Then for a third visit they wanted to change all the injectors and the high pressure fuel pump!   So I'd already spent quite a bit on the car to get it working, as I always was happy to do, but when told they wanted another £3,500 I was understandably not happy!

 

So this guide that focuses mainly on use BMWs I'd say just remember that BMW comes fairly low in many reliability surveys.   Buyer beware, and an App isn't going to fix it!

25 September 2018

same as above, totally baffled

25 September 2018

It's now possible to remap an old car yourself just using an app, something that used to require specialist knowledge and equipment. But obviously nobody would be interested to hear about that, so... here's some old BMWs?

25 September 2018

Great! Thanks for letting know about those Apps which are not just for monitoring used buy's vital signs but can help us to realise that car is full potential as well. Those candidates who come from automobile engineering field and take care assistance CV help - https://www.cvfolks.co.uk/care-assistant-cv/ from CV Folks, are very happy to find such an excellent website regarding Autocar car review.  

25 September 2018

Slighly concerning that remapping can be accomplished by anyone with a phone and the knowledge. But given that the original settings were probably the best compromise between performance / economy / emissions / durability, it's likely that something has to give if performance, drivabity, torque are the only considerations. Is it even legal to reprogram a diesel ECU? 

289

25 September 2018

....come on James, those wheels on your E21 arent Alpina's....you should know that you used to sell them like me.

They are factory alloys - very common on E21's....(Mahle BBS's look better).

Alpina wheels have tapered spokes, and look very different when placed next to each other.

25 September 2018

What a pointless article this is.

Absolutely nothing to do with apps, or upgrades, even though it could've been a really interesting article with lots of information about the kind of things you can do to your car through an app, which cars have the most customisation possible, etc.

The headline should be: What Cheap Used BMWs Can You Buy

Ridiculous, Ruppert.

25 September 2018
thesockpuppet wrote:

What a pointless article this is.

Absolutely nothing to do with apps, or upgrades, even though it could've been a really interesting article with lots of information about the kind of things you can do to your car through an app, which cars have the most customisation possible, etc.

The headline should be: What Cheap Used BMWs Can You Buy

Ridiculous, Ruppert.

Completely agree. Seriously poor article and irritating as well. I get the impression Ruppert must like BMW's? The way the article is indeed stated to talk about upgrading cars with apps and then leads to reading your pointless BMW fanboy spiel makes you just look like a d**k. Well done. 

TSV

25 September 2018

As a recent purchaser of a BMW 1 series, imagine my excitement when I read the headline , and then the article, to discover that there were old BMW's that looked like other old BMW's. 

Clear some space on your mantle piece, I suspect a Pullitzer is on its way to you.

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