Many people, who understand Russian and are interested in cars, for sure know the video blog of Maksim Schelkov on YouTube. He’s a forensic expert and helps people with the purchase of the car and also with solutions of the situations when it turns out, that the purchased car is previously stolen, has suffered serious damages or in any other way doesn’t match what was promised by the seller. I think, almost everyone gets the impression, that something like that is possible only in Russia. Certainly – not in Europe.

I have to disappoint you – in my country, the situation is only slightly better. When evaluating already purchased cars, regularly I see “miracles”. And now I will describe one such case.

The car was delivered to the customer from Germany as if in perfect condition, price range: around EUR 10’000. It’s not so little for 10 years old car (taking into account, that the cheapest F10/F11 are also in the same pricing range already). Supplier – a serious company, which is specialized in car deliveries and as if it takes full responsibility as if thoroughly checks each car.
Unfortunately, I am not allowed to give very exact information regarding the current vehicle, so I will mention only general data: E90, 325i, manufacturing Year: 2008, engine: N53B30U0. As we understand, the pricing is quite an expensive vehicle. Odometer readings: slightly above 115.000, interior – clean and well-groomed. First impression when getting in the car – yes, well-maintained car. It looks, that the car was driving on the highway, not for short distances with low average speed – its wear “getting in/getting out” is slight; all knobs, buttons, also pedals and driving weel look very slightly worn.

Why this car “came” to me? Literally, when driving out of the car salon, the EML symbol (Check Engine) lighted up in the KOMBI, and the car started to shiver.

When checking the error message memory, I found this:

  • the error messages regarding the NOx sensor. Nothing special – these sensors typically serve for 30 .. 50.000 km;
  • the error message 30E9. This is a much more peculiar symptom. Yes, the NOx catalytic converters serve for around 150’000km, but if the NOx sensor is damaged, the performance of the NOx catalytic converter is not measured (the engine doesn’t use Stratified charge) and the error message 30E9 is not recorded. This time I had to conclude, that the 30E9 has been recorded already for a longer time. The NOx catalytic converter has not served 100’000km? Quite strange. Even very strange, taking into account the signs of usage profile of the car;
  • the error messages regarding HPFP. Full set – in the History memory 2FCA and 2FDA can be found (they can be caused by some leaking injector), 29F2 (pressure, static value). The error message attributes indicate the correct amount of fuel consumed (so – the injectors were working correctly, were not leaking), but the fixed pressure of Rail: below 170 Bar (instead of 200 Bar). Really true damage to HPFP?

The engine was warmed up, readapted. All injectors were working properly, the fuel mixture – correct. Here, how the HPFP pressure in idle looks when pressing the accelerator pedal:

As we see, HPFP barely manages around 50 Bar (although a normal pressure would be 200 Bar); even when increasing the consumed amount of fuel slightly, the Rail pressure drops to 20 .. 30 Bar and even till the pressure of low-contour (5 Bar)! HPFP is completely damaged! For the car, which has a mileage of 100’000 km? Again – more than strange! Such a heavy crash of HPFP I haven’t seen before! HPFP is a very robust product and is completely clear that such damage can not appear during a short time (for example, as a result of wear). Such heavy damage for a car with such low mileage?
At the same time: the condition of the interior is very correct, well-groomed – complete mismatch.

The technical condition of HPFP and exhaust doesn’t correspond to the mileage, indicated in KOMBI, not also the condition of the interior. It made me suspicious. I decided to take a closer look at the car.
As I already mentioned at the beginning of this entry, the owner of the vehicle didn’t allow to disclose detailed info regarding the car, so I will try to describe nuances in such a way so they don’t indicate the special signs of the car. At the same time, I will give you general information, which can be useful for you, if you have a color thickness gauge.

The inspection of the front of the car confirmed that both – the engine hood and both front wings – are replaced. But the coloring is in one layer (replacement of the parts is given away by the places of the screws and increased variation of the color thickness), the loungers are not damaged – could be only cosmetical damages. True thou, this is not a typical situation too. Even if the car is relatively new (during warranty time), in case of the damaged varnish layer the dealer applies an additional layer of varnish, and it can be seen (it can be measured). In case of cosmetical damage of the color – applies the second layer of color. Also, this can be measured very well. Yes, the engine good and the wings of these cars are made from aluminum (to reduce the weight of the car), in case of damages, they are not filled, but replaced. It looks that all front of the car has been damaged (they haven’t been only varnish/color damages). Or – somebody has put a lot of effort to make this car “reliable” and has not spared expenses to replace all front part of the vehicle. Anyway – the screw locations are processed carefully – I don’t even take a picture of them, without a careful examination it really looked that “everything is fine”.
Note: these cars are painted in 2 stages in the factory. At the first stage, the color is applied (around 80um) – including also internal surfaces (the robot “opens” the door, engine hood, luggage compartment for a moment), then – the varnish is applied (around 40um, only on external surfaces). This time the presence of varnish on internal surfaces confirmed the non-factory painting.

The situation with the rear part of the car was even more interesting:

  • passenger side: the thickness of color around 150 .. 170 um. An additional layer of varnish;
  • drivers side: around 240 .. 270um. Obviously – a double color layer. No, there can not be found any filler. A cosmetic defect? Possibly.

I can even imagine the convincing story of the seller – “the car was scratched at the parking lot. But the repair was done at the dealer service, they painted it in a certified camera! Everything is done perfectly!”

Very suspicious symptoms:

  • the thickness of the color on the roof varies from 110 .. 120 um (what would be a correct thickness of the painting) to 160 .. 170um in one corner. Such painting is not created by a robot of the BMW factory! At the same time – only one layer of color? Illogical!
    If we assume, that the roof has any cosmetic defect, even during the warranty another layer of color is applied above the first one, and the total thickness of color reaches 250+um. No one cleans such surfaces till metal – it is costly, and the insurance companies don’t overpay for such an extra;
  • the color thickness of both doorways at the driver’s side: around 160 .. 180um, although correct (factory) painting is around 80um. why somebody should repaint the doorways?
  • both doors at the left side are been replaced.

Also, the replacement of doors has been done atypical. Either the doors have been taken from the other car of the same color code, or – new ones because the painting is in one layer (but again – the color thickness differs for at least 20 .. 30um in different places). For mounting new, non-painted (but original) screws are used. If you don’t know the assembly sequence at the factory – nothing looks suspicious, because the unpainted screws are not previously shabby ones with factory paint.
Note: in the factory, the car is painted after installing the doors, accordingly – the screws of door hinges also are painted.
Inspecting C stand (rear) more carefully, we spotted a seam. So – the parts of the car have been replaced. Measuring the color thickness directly by the seam, you can find the thickness of around 500um (color + filler).

but already 1cm from the seam – only double painting layer.

I have to admit – the seam is made very good, I even didn’t manage to take a picture of it.

Taking off the rubbers, we have to conclude – the spot welding “disappears”.

Taking off the interior lining of the C stand on the driver’s side – yes, the whole stand is welded. From the luggage compartment side – the welding seams are visible very well.

Here, the sealant in the luggage department, at the passenger’s side:

And the same seam at the driver’s side:

The difference is visible very well!

Conclusion: the rear wing on the driver’s side has been replaced! So – the damage has been serious enough! But is it just that?

I’ll remind you again:

  • roof painting – uneven;
  • both doorways on the driver’s side – repainted;
  • both doors at the driver’s side – replaced.

What has happened to this car?
Yes, logically – the doorway of the rear door had to be painted. But why the doorway of the front door is also painted? After painting, all original labels are restored, including the identification label.
To receive the identification label (it has VIN number on it), the owner in person has to order it from the dealer – it is not issued to any random person!

From the factory, the doorways have no varnish, in case of any local damage (for example, a scratch) it is easy to paint the damaged place, not compromising the “reputation” of the car.
I didn’t have an accept to disassemble the car more detailed (because after the discovered replacement of the wing it was decided to solve the issue of return of the car), but I’m 99% sure, that:

  • the whole left side of the car is been replaced: A and B stands, doorways;
  • the roof of the car is also replaced.

The seams of the repairs go:

  • by the roof railings (it is easy to hide the welding seams below the decorative lining of the roof railing);
  • at front – the welding seams are covered by the front wing;
  • at rear – the place of joint with the replaced rear wing;
  • at the bottom of the car – floor, along the threshold.

Moreover, obviously, the repair element of the left side has been taken from another car, so it had to be painted once again.

Here, how as if innocent, slight unevenness of the color and double painting layer of the doorways turned out to be a “car – constructor” from at least 2 (most probably – 3+) cars!
And what about the engine and exhaust of the car?

Most probably, the engine (or its aggregates) and the exhaust have been installed from some vehicle with a mileage of “half-a-million”. Taking into account all repairs of the body, it is possible to seel such a car (for a high price) only to a person, who will not check it thoroughly. Or one, who is equipped with a color thickness gauge and relies on it. For such a buyer, a max cheap power aggregate will be fine – how it makes sense to sell a good engine and exhaust? The good engine and exhaust can be sold (installed) with a better, more expensive car, earning an additional several thousand or EUR. And, if they do not succeed to sell this car expensive enough – even more is sorry for a good engine and an expensive exhaust!

In the end: when running the check of the car via databases, it turned out, that several years ago a serious accident was registered, the repair estimate was above EUR 10’000. The car was totalized, the owner of that moment received full value from the insurance company. And now it has reborn “as a Phoenix” and sold to the next owner. As a perfect vehicle in a perfect technical condition. For an expensive price. And more – this entry overrides the myth, that an expensive car can not be a piece of sh..t”, and the constructors from 3 cars are always sold for a low price.