Are BMW Good Cars? Yes, but avoid these models


BMW is one of the most sought-after car brands in the world. To some, BMWs are a symbol of status and luxury–a statement that they’ve made it in life. Others love BMWs for their dynamic performance and sporty handling. But is a BMW a good car?

BMW is a good car option, albeit expensive to maintain. If you want to own this prestigious German car, you’ve got to be ready to spend on maintenance. The trick is to find one that fits your lifestyle and treat it well.

Whether you’re looking to buy your first car or you want to upgrade your ride, this post will take a deep dive into BMW vehicles to help you figure out what these rides have in store for you. Let’s get started.

Are BMW Cars Reliable?

Reliability is always an essential factor when it comes to buying a vehicle. According to J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study, BMW ranks no. 10 out of 32 car brands. A Consumer Report’s survey also shows that BMW’s newest models have an improved reliability score. 

While BMW’s ranking isn’t bad, there is still room for improvement. Brands like Lexus, Toyota, and KIA top the reliability list. If reliability is your biggest concern, there are some BMW models known for their dependability. We will look at them later in the next section.

What are Some of the Best BMW Models?

BMW car showroom

Although BMW makes some highly desirable vehicles, luxury and style don’t automatically interpret as dependable. BMWs require more vigilance when it comes to maintenance and typically cost more to fix and maintain, thanks to their complexity.

Here are some models that have a track record of reliability.

●    The 2006-2011 BMW 3 Series – Easily considered the most reliable BMW model. They are economical, good to drive, equipped with comfort features, and mostly free of the annoying issues other BMW owners have to deal with. The 3-Series offered a sedan(E90), wagon(E91), and convertible(E93). 

●    The BMW 5 Series – It’s one of the best luxury sedans BMW has ever made, despite lacking a bit in the department of athletic performance. The manufacturer places more emphasis on comfort and a good driving experience. It has a potent engine, good fuel economy, and the vehicle is less likely to require costly repairs over the years.

●    2013 BMW 1 Series – If you’re looking for a compact version of the three series, then this could be your best choice. This hatchback is fitted with the same engine as the three series and has a good reliability rating and a number of decent features. Although it isn’t spacious, it has reasonable gas mileage and offers a good driving experience.

BMWs Least Reliable Cars and Should be Avoided?

Some BMW models have been given a thumbs down by many owners. Here are some BMW models that are known for their unreliability. 

●    Models with the N54 Engine – Models that came with the N54 engine, such as the 35i, had serious reliability issues. Some problems the owners face include high-pressure fuel pump failure, turbocharger failure, carbon buildup on the engine, and leaky/clogged fuel injectors.

●    BMW X6 (2014-2019) – Despite the sporty appeal, these vehicles were plagued with gearbox issues. Other problematic areas included the exhaust and non-engine electrics.

●    BMW E46 M3 – It had a ton of problems like Vanos failure, numerous electrical faults, and even a subframe flaw where the car started to physically fall apart.

Are BMW Cars Good to Drive?

Bmw interior

There’s a reason that many people buy a BMW and then never switch brands. These vehicles provide pure driving pleasure for the owner. The expert German craftsmanship gives you something truly unique, allowing you to be at one with machine and road.

Driving is a breeze, whether you’re gliding along the motorway, braking, or steering around tight corners. You’ll love the responsive steering, stability, and safety features.

How Many Miles Can a BMW Last?

A BMW will comfortably last over 200,000 miles if you give it enough attention and love. And, some models can even last longer; that’s why it’s not uncommon to come across BMWs from the 1980s on the road.

A gently cared-for BMW should give you no issues and allow you to drive it for upwards of 15 years. Compared to other car brands, a BMW’s paint job will look much newer a decade after you bought it. Even more importantly, its high-quality parts won’t need frequent replacing.

Most Common BMW Problems and Repairs

Older BMWs from the 90s and early 2000s had fewer faults, largely because they lacked mechanical or electronic complexity. Newer BMWs are very high-tech, with a lot of electrical components, computer systems, and new-age engineering under the hood. These systems can prove more fault-prone and expensive to maintain, especially once the warranty runs out.

Here are some of the common faults on BMWs that you need to know: 

●    Electric Issues – Electric faults are a familiar theme with many BMW cars. Electric windows sometimes fail to work and stay open, compromising your safety and comfort. There are also issues with the restraint system, door locks, and tire pressure monitoring system.

●    Oil Leakage – Another recurring problem in different BMW models is oil leaks. The issue emerges when the oil filter gasket wears out prematurely, as early as the 50,000 mileage mark. The problem can be complex to fix, and the repair bill is hefty.

●    Failing Coolant System – The job of the coolant system is to keep the engine from overheating. Unfortunately, some BMW coolant systems develop issues when the vehicle approaches the 80,000-mile mark, leaving you stranded on the roadside. 

●    Vibrating Steering Wheel when Braking – Many owners of the BMW 3 series complain that the steering wheel shakes while braking. The thrush arm bushings are usually at fault, often failing when the car has as little as 60,000 miles on the clock.

ModelYearProblemCost
BMW 3 Series2015Electric Windows Motor Replacement$881
2009Electric Windows Motor Replacement$927
BMW 5 Series2015Oil Filter Housing Gasket Replacement$469
2009Oil Filter Housing Gasket Replacement$480
BMW 3 Series2015Cooling/Radiator Fan Motor Replacement$848
2009Cooling/Radiator Fan Motor Replacement$1338
BMW 3 Series2015Steering wheel vibrates or shakes (Inspection)$115
2009Steering wheel vibrates or shakes (Inspection)$115
Source: Yourmechanic

Conclusion

This iconic brand delivers vehicles that are not only classy and sporty but also reliable, well-built, and safe. That said, you need to take good care of your BMW maintenance. Skip it, and she’ll bite you. Major repairs are expensive, BMWs are at the cutting edge of many automotive advancements. As these systems age, you know they’re going to be troublesome and expensive to repair, just saying.

Before buying a used BMW or any vehicle, it’s always worth investing a few dollars to check the VIN number against a database. An audit with a company like VinAudit (links to VinAudit) will guard against Mileage fraud, Salvage rebuilds, Title washing, Vin cloning, and many more uglies.

You may also find the following posts useful:

Should I Buy a Used BMW?

Are BMW expensive to maintain?

Are Mercedes Cars Good?

Should I buy a used Porsche?

Are Buick good cars?

Are Lexus expensive to maintain?

John Cunningham

John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer on Rustyautos.com. I've been a mechanic for over twenty-five years, and I've worked for GM, Volvo, Volkswagen, Landrover, and Jaguar dealerships. My passion is cars. I use my knowledge and experience to write articles that help fellow gear-heads with all aspects of car ownership, including buying advice, maintenance, and troubleshooting.

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