1. Maintenance vs. Repair
Maintenance is preventive in nature. The idea behind changing operating fluids such as engine oil, coolant, gearbox oil, differential oil and brake fluid, for example is to prevent the need for premature repairs. Replacement of consumable parts such as brake pads, brake rotors, wiper blades, filters, bulbs etc also comes under the head of maintenance.
If you follow BMW’s and other European vehicle maintenance schedules, there really isn’t much maintenance to be done at all. However, European vehicles current schedule is designed to reduce the cost of ownership…for the manufacturer! The companies started providing free scheduled maintenance during the warranty period about nine years ago, whereupon the “schedule” was heavily revised. Back when owners paid for maintenance, BMW and other European vehicle required quite a bit of it. Now that the European vehicle manufacture pays for maintenance, the cars hardly need any at all!? The natural and probable result is more repairs in the post-warranty period.
Repair work is completely different. A repair is necessitated by a parts failure of some kind.
Owners who plan to keep their car past the warranty period or who buy a car after the warranty expires, are well advised to follow the old school maintenance schedule that predates free scheduled maintenance.
2. There is a price to be paid for driving any car.
You can pay that price at the front door in the form of interest and depreciation on a newer car, or you can pay the price at the back door in the form of maintenance and repairs on a mature car. The higher the functional capabilities of any given car, the more you will pay at either door, generally speaking.
BMWs and other European vehicles are highly functional cars. They can do more things dynamically than a Mazda 626, though the latter is eminently competent for commuting purposes or as A-to-B transportation. At the end of the day, it comes down to what you want.
As for the enthusiast car vs. the CPO (certified pre owned) car, We’d definitely go with the enthusiast car. It is important to bear in mind that the warranty has both time and mileage components, and most cars go out of warranty on time. Most CPO warranty is for six years or 100,000 km, whichever comes first. What comes first is usually 6 years, and that 6 years begins from the original in-service date of the car, not six years from the date it was certified into the CPO program.
Lastly, our advice for minimizing the cost of repairs on an European vehicle is to buy a six-cylinder, manual gearbox with a minimum of electronic doo-dads. Expensive problems follow options like GPS navigation, upgraded audio systems and to a lesser extent the Premium Package equipment (though nearly all cars have Premium Package). Also bear in mind that if you buy a car with a Sport Package, you’ll be looking at replacing tires every 15,000 to 30,000 Km.
We highly recommend using one of Alberta European Motorwoks scheduled preventative maintenance programs.