COAL: 2015 BMW X5 – Auction Find, But There’s A Catch

2015 BMW X5

Life has a way of taking you down unexpected rabbit holes. I was reading the NY Post one night, and they were talking about Kanye West’s trucks being auctioned. Seems when Kanye and Kim split, he decided to sell his ranch out West, and the associated Ford trucks.

I went to the auction site, and bid on a couple of them. There were a couple of Raptors (too rich for my blood), some Expeditions, and a few F-350’s.

I was interested because my youngest son was going to need a car (or truck). You may recall we bought the 2000 GMC Sierra for a runabout for him during his gap year, but at 22 years and 245,000 miles, we were not willing to let him drive it 8 hours away to college. Our handyman’s Nissan Titan truck also finally died on him, so we were going to give him the Sierra and let him work it off.

I rapidly was outbid, but in perusing the offerings of the same auction house, I saw that they had a 2015 BMW X5. It looked great in the pictures, and though it had high miles (159,xxx), it was a turbodiesel.

It was a no reserve auction, the high bidder gets it. The pictures were fairly comprehensive, and it was billed as a two owner car that had spent it’s life in Washington State.

Through my Carfax app, I could add the car to my “garage” and get a free Carfax, more or less. The Carfax app doesn’t show everything, but it shows the service history. There were 33 (!) dealer or indy shop service records for the X5. Together with looking clean in the pictures, it was clearly a well maintained car.

I also knew my son would love it. It would be a great “college car”. The bloom was off the rose, so to speak, which was a good thing. It would be sitting outside, maybe parked on the street a lot, carrying a lot of college bros, and somewhat abused. He could haul all his stuff to and from school. There was a pretty high likelihood it would be a reliable car for the next three years or so, even with those miles. If it were gasoline instead of diesel, I would have been a lot less interested.

I texted him about it, and he was on board. He loved it! The 2015 BMW 328i GT COAL I wrote up had been “his” car in high school, but his older brother took it to college. The X5 was black on black like the GT, and my engineering major younger son really liked that it was a diesel.

So, I bid a max of $11,000.00. The trade in on KBB was about $19,000.00, private party $21,000.00, and dealer retail $24,000.00, even with those miles. It was pretty loaded up, with 19″ wheels, heated seats front and rear, heated steering wheel, power tilt/telescope wheel, heads up display, navigation, full LED headlights, roof rails, all the nanny features (360 degree cameras, lane keeping, blind spot, pedestrian detection, emergency braking), panoramic roof, 4 zone climate control, all wheel drive, and leather (optional, yes).

Well, we won! $10,500.00 was the final bid and together with the 10% buyer’s premium and $100 doc/temporary Washington State tag fee, the final price was $11,650.00.

Route from NC to WA

The catch? Well, I am in North Carolina and the X5 was still in Washington State, where it had spent it’s life. No bother, I love to drive and who doesn’t love an excuse to drive 2,618 miles across the country?

My wife did not share this outlook, and declined to participate. So, I bought a one-way ticket on Delta to Washington State for under $350.00. I plotted out two reasonable stops to get back to North Carolina rapidly (Salt Lake City and Kansas City, Missouri), and booked some cheap motels on Priceline (about $70 each night, the one in SLC was great but Kansas City was pretty sketch).

Sunrise from a plane

As my wife dropped me off at the airport at 5:30am, I thanked her for being supportive. “Supportive is an overstatement” was her reply.

My flight departed North Carolina at 6:30am (this is the sunrise from my window) on a Friday. With “gaining” three hours, I landed in Washington at about 11:30am. I took a taxi two miles to the auction house, certified check in hand.

2015 BMW x5 interior

The car was, overall, way better than I expected. The lead picture, as well as these two, are what I took at the auction house as it was presented to me. This car was CLEAN. Cleaner than a lot of used cars at dealerships. There were WeatherTech mats front and rear, and in the cargo area.

The windshield had a gnarly crack all the way across, which did not show in the auction pictures. But, the Nexen tires had good tread and a late 2020 date code. I was assuming it would need a set of tires, which it didn’t, and a windshield from Safelite was cheaper than a set of tires. So, no harm, no foul.

The auction site expressly stated that while they attempted to represent the cars well in the pictures, they were not inventorying defects either.

Rear of a 2015 BMW X5

After checking all the lights, fluids, and tire pressures, I set out for Salt Lake City about 1pm, which was about 9 hours away. It is a weird feeling to set out into strange surroundings, in an unknown car with 159,000 miles, to drive 700 miles into the night. The thought that I was crazy crossed my mind more than once, but we arrived in SLC Friday night without incident.

Going through a car wash

One the way to Kansas City Saturday, we went through a car wash in Nebraska and got the “full treatment” for $20 and change, with wax and tire gloss, interior cleaning, and detailing the wheels and door jambs.

BMW x5 dash

SLC to Kansas City was a long day, about 14 hours with stops. The speed limit from SLC to Kansas City is 80 pretty much the whole way, so the cruise was set in the 80’s all day. And, you can see the fuel mileage we are getting. That’s not an “instant” mpg, that’s the average since I left Washington. When I sent this shot to my wife, she started to come around. “If it can do almost 90 for three days with no issues, it must be a good car”.


When we arrived in Kansas City, I went to get takeout and passed an O’Reilly car parts store. I bought wiper blades which were sorely needed, and tire valve caps (two were missing). I took a picture at the dive motel before I turned in for the night.

The third and final day on Sunday was less taxing, about 800 miles home from Kansas City. There were no issues for the whole trip. I have not found anything that doesn’t work correctly, so far.

Of note, my lower back hurts quickly and easily on road trips. My back did not hurt at all after three days and about 32 hours of driving. The seats are very “supple”, more Cadillac than BMW. The heat feature gets very hot, quickly. I would take these seats over the massaging ones in my 740e in a heartbeat.

Today was 82 degrees in North Carolina, so the A/C was tested for the first time and cooled the X5 down well after sitting in the sun all day.

I have an appointment for Safelite to come to house and replace the windshield soon. There is also an outstanding recall for the fuel pump which affected all diesel BMW’s, and I have an appointment at the local dealer for that.

It looks great in these pics, and from 10 feet away in person, but there’s extensive road rash on the front as you would expect with those miles. I have some black tinted wax, and a few coats of that with the power buffer should help a lot. I’ve ordered a new engine air filter and cabin filters off, because I can’t be sure when they were last done, and they’re cheap and easy to do.

We’ll check in about a year and (fingers crossed) hope we have good things to report!