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Is BMW Reliable?

Are you planning to purchase a BMW car and want to know if this brand is reliable and dependable? This brand of car is synonymous with comfort and opulence. Bayerische Motoren Werkegmbh, commonly known as BMW, means the Bavarian Engine Works Company.

The name BMW harks back to the origin of the company in the state of Bavaria in Germany. Also, it indicates the original product variety: engine for different uses.

At this point, just about everyone connects BMW with style, class as well as luxury. On the other hand, however, what are these cars made of and are they worth your money? Let’s examine it and give you the information you need.

BMW Launch Control

Is BMW a Reliable Manufacturer?

A lot of people ask if a BMW is reliable or not. While the reply depends on whom you ask, some sites weigh in on this critical question. One website states that this model of car has a reliability of 2.5 out of 5.0 that ranks thirtieth out of more than thirty brands of car. The rating is based on an average of 345 exceptional models. The standard annual repair expenses for this car is USD $968, so meaning it has average ownership costs. Other factors, which contribute to the reliability of the BMW, include an average of 0.9 visits to a repair company yearly and a fifteen percent probability of a repair being serious.

Another website commented that the yearly cost for all models of BMW is USD968 a year as opposed to USD652 in all models. This takes account of both scheduled and unscheduled repairs.

While this model is considered the most sought after cars in the world, there is much to be desired on this luxury brand of car. Since the year 2007, BMW hasn’t scored beyond average with Consumer Reports. The BMW 3 Series convertible topped a list of the five least dependable and reliable autos in 2012. Meanwhile, the BMW 5 Series came on the third spot on the list.

Not just that, however, their research found that vehicles aged between 4 and 8 years old more likely than any other vehicle to be off the road, with the BMW 3 Series being the most sought-after car to be so. A 2010 study by Consumer Reports Best Cars suggests the 3rd series was placed as among the least dependable in most categories and classes.

bmw m4 rolling shot

Complaints About BMW

One of the many complaints about this brand of car is that they are not reliable. Nobody wishes to be stuck with a lavish car, which has dependability issues and is going to cost you a lot annually to maintain. However, do these cars really deserves fame for being not dependable, or is it only a bunch of hot air?

As a whole, BMW cars are comparatively reliable once they are well-maintained. BMW components are costlier, and labor prices are soaring. However, the drivetrains are close to bulletproof, and when they are well-maintained well, they will drive well further than 200,000 miles.

On the other hand, there’s a caveat. There are variations of reliability amongst diverse kinds of generations of BMW, which you must be aware of, and even if BMWs are usually dependable with proper maintenance, which is higher, compared to other brands or models of cars. There is also a video that explains the reliability issues of BMW to be aware of it.

Are BMWs “comparatively” reliable?

There are a lot of reasons why BMWs are reliable. One good reason is the capability of this car to last 250k to 300k miles; some of them don’t. What is the reason behind this? This is due to the age they often have many problems with luxury electronics as well as minor mechanical parts, which rack up the expense of maintenance.

There are instances that the maintenance cost gets so high where it is even unwise to keep the vehicle.

bmw launch control racing flag

What Luxury Problems are Plaguing BMWs?

Think about this; vehicles are made and designed differently from one another; it depends on who the target user is. On the other hand, BMWs are made on the lavish side and target those who will spend more on a more lavish or comfortable ride. Therefore, BMWs feature many bells and whistles, complex electronic as well as costly parts. Latest-model also have all types of switches, sensors, as well as onboard control, which make them look like a supercomputer instead of a car.

The idea behind these is to make the car easy to use and comfortable as much as possible. However, the flaw is that every additional electronic part added to the car creates another part, which will malfunction eventually ad make the cars hard to fix and repair.

Features such as xenon lights, iDrive system, seat pad sensors for airbags, as well as turbochargers are nice to have while they’re working. However, when these different parts begin having issues after the warranty expires, that is when the costs of maintenance start to explode.

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BMWs Have Small Issues in Mechanical Parts Which Compound In Due Course

BMWs infatuation with setting up luxury electronics in its cars is an issue for dependability as it boosts the costs of maintenance. But, another reason for the issue is the minor mechanical issues, which emerge. This is a minor issue as you will seldom have a drivetrain issue with this car; however, the fact that BMW labors and parts are costly, these problems can be extremely expensive.

There are many mechanical problems that are relatively universal amongst BMW. Car models like E36s, E90 3 Series BMW, and E46s; each one had coolant system problems, which has to be solved preemptively so as to keep away from a more serious issue. Door handle and window regulator issues are part of the course with the BMW 3 Series.

A lot of mechanical failures are classified in the stressful inconvenience box. A faulty or defective door handle or sticky door panel may be stressful. However, it doesn’t really affect the reliability of this car. However, a replacement of the exterior door handle can cost you hundreds of dollars, and coolant system replacement can cost you more than USD $1,000.

All these small problems add to a big bill in due course. This occurs especially where a past owner didn’t maintain his or her ca properly, and the new owner is bombarded by maintenance issues, which make the car very unreliable.

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Maintaining a BMW Car is Expensive and Costlier

Aside from labor, replacement parts often cost you more than you would give out for a local car. As a high-end performance model, BMWs need more maintenance than other brands of cars such as Honda, Hyundai, etc., and which maintenance needs to be properly done.

It is not good to visit Walmart and save a lot by getting discount oil for your car. It is not a good idea to stretch the schedule of maintenance on oil changes, replacement of spark plugs, and many others. Saving money via filling the tank with eighty-seven rather than ninety-three is also ill-advised.

Once the owner of this car doesn’t stick to the required maintenance schedules or skip on repair, that is when they begin having issues, and this adds to their fame and reputation for not being dependable and reliable.

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BMW Reliability According to Customer Reviews

BMW hasn’t scored beyond average with Consumer Reports ever since 2007. CR has unswervingly ranked many different BMW models in the top 10 least reliable cars in recent years. Also, they noted that this car has shifted from a focus on the driver to a focus on comfort and technology. BMW 5 Series often takes hits with consumer reviews, which include Consumer Reports where these series dropped recently to a below-average reliability rating as drivers reported failures in electronic.

Below is a full detail of BMW reliability as opposed to other cars in the lavish vehicle class. As you see, this car performed the worst in dependability rankings. This information was amassed from Repair Pal.

Car Manufacturer Reliability Rating

  • BMW – 3.5/5
  • Mercedes Benz – 3/5
  • Audi – 3/5
  • Infiniti – 3.5/5
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BMW Car is Dependable Where it Matter

Therefore, with the whole thing you’ve read about this car’s reliability issues, how could you still recommend that these cars are pretty reliable and dependable?

BMWs are pretty dependable as they seldom have serious debilitation problems, and their dependability is tough and solid once the owner sticks to the schedule of maintenance.

We own a BMW car, and in my experience, I’ve never seen a serious problem in the drivetrain. I never experience a serious engine differential or transmission problem on any of the BMW models. However, I need to replace valve cover gaskets, rebuilt the variable valve timing unit, oil housing gaskets as well as done fluid service replacements on the rear end and transmission.

So, what auto does not need this type of work performed after 100k miles? A Hyundai, Toyota, or a Honda? All cars need this type of maintenance, like other brands of cars today. The biggest difference is that the labors and parts cost a lot on BMWs; certainly, there are specific additional parts on this car, which are not available on a non-luxury car. On the other hand, part of owning a lavish auto is also accepting that maintenance will be expensive.

One thing many people love about this brand of car is that once you handle the car with a car and follow the scheduled maintenance, you will just experience a few problems concerning the drivetrain. This is doesn’t assure you not ever to experience an issue with the engine. On the other hand, I assure the way they’re making cars today, a BMW will surely blow a drivetrain made in the US out of the water.

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New BMW vs. Old BMW: Comparing the Reliability

Over the years, BMW has changed like other brands of cars. The brand has changed a lot that I think of newer models as a different brand of the car entirely. The 3 Series were far more dependable when it comes to yearly maintenance costs and were made to be driver-focused. Even if a common complaint has always been that this car is a bit comfortable with putting plastic parts in its coolant system, now it’s just one out of many maintenance issues.

The latest models have a lot of electronic components, some intended for performance and safety and others made for luxury. These electronics unavoidably fail, and sad to say, it is not unheard of to give out a mechanic to diagnose an issue in electrical in the first 20K miles. You are coping with diverse types of issues with newer models, and they are debatably costlier.

It is clear that BMW surely doesn’t make the most dependable car, particularly when thinking of more current or recent models. But, they make top-notch performance vehicles and most of possessing it or have possessed it for a couple of years are pleased with what they offered.

We made a breakdown of information to give you an idea of the reliability of the three different BMWs. This information isn’t an exact science; however, it’s borne out of years of experience fixing or repairing these cars:

BMW 3 Series Generation Reliability

  • BMW E36 (1990-2000): Most reliable, some electronics, coolant system issues
  • BMW E46 (1997-2006): This is 2nd to the E36, coolant system problems and there are some issues in transmission n early production.
  • BMW E90 (2006-2011): Close to the E46, twin turbocharger breakdown, and high-pressure fuel system issues.
  • BMW F30 (2011-2019): A bit early to make a judgment, but issues concerning the timing chain breakdown is not unheard of for early models.
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Reliability Disparities Amongst BMW Models

Each carmaker has made some poor or substandard models before, and it is open to everyone that BMW has done the same. The BMW 3 Series Models are usually known as being more dependable than the Series 5 and Series 7.

So, why the BMW 3 Series is regarded as more reliable? Well, the answer lies in being traditionally been regarded as a starter model. It has fewer bells and whistles than the Series 5 and Series 7, and smaller engines. So, they have significantly fewer issues than other series.

Today, things have gotten complicated, provided the fact that this brand has added many additional models to their lineup. The company has added a one, two, and four series to the mix. So, how do all of these cards compare in terms of dependability?

Keep on reading to know the predicted reliability of the BMW 2020 models. The information came from Consumer Reports

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2020 BMW Predicted Reliability Rating

  • 2 Series 3/5
  • 3 Series 1/5
  • 4 Series 4/5
  • 5 Series 2/5
  • 7 Series 3/5
  • 8 Series 3/5

By far, the BMW 3 Series the worst in reliability rating given by Consumer Reports. This can partially be explained by the truth that the 2020 3 Series has already had many recalls this past few years. Though a bigger point and something which is considered is that the 3 Series BMW has had more considerable reliability problems over the past couple of years than it has in the past.

The 5 and 7 Series BMW normally does far worse than the 3 Series when it comes to dependability. Therefore it will be interesting to know if those alterations with the BMW 2020.

Also, there are some particular model years and cars, which are exceptionally not reliable in the lineup of BMW.
V8 X5 is the least preferred model of BMW. We owned one for many years until it was damaged in a mishap. By far, it was the least dependable ca we have ever owned. We have an awful experience with this model of car.

The valve cover gaskets, PCV as well as valve stems would often go out in the first sixty and eighty thousand miles. What made this worse is that this car stuffed the 4.9 liters into the engine bay with small space to do anything. Since then, this car has gone better than its X5 lineup; however, after our experience, we will never purchase one.

Another exceptionally not dependable BMW car was the early model double turbo E90s. When it first came out, there were a lot of reports of the dual-turbo failing while driving. If that doesn’t threaten you, the early type dual turbos were renowned for failing too soon and needing replacement. Dual turbo replacement can cost you a considerable amount of money.

We just listed some of the models which are renowned for reliability problems. There are others with exceptional issues. To keep away from these, a skilled consumer must take a look at the model year they’re interested in and determine if there have been any problem recalls.

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BMW Cars Which Are Exceptionally Dependable and Reliable

Now that we’ve gotten in some of the models that were not reliable, I like to tell you about the models, which are, for me, exceptionally reliable. US News and JD Power gave the 2007 and the 2011 model a high rating of reliability. The 2011 BMW 3 Series, 2013 1 Series, 2016 2 Series as well as 2014 3 Series got high ratings for reliability from US News. However, the BMW 1 Series got the highest scores.

I own a 318i BMW car, and it works and drives well into the 200k mile until it was damaged in a mishap. The car seldom required any fixing aside from regular maintenance. It was an extremely dependable car until the time it was wrecked. I have a 1996 BMW 328i car and drove well within a 150k mile range and utilized it daily until I transferred for school. I was seldom required to do some repairs, and some of the maintenance done was just preventative.

For me, the E46 and the E36 are very dependable vehicles, even well beyond 100k miles. Maintenance is pretty cheap as they just don’t have a lot of parts in the interior and in the engine bay as well. There are fewer components to worry about as opposed to a new model.

The 3 Series E90 is also a remarkable car. But, I recommend that you keep away from models with a turbocharger. Even the previous E90 one turbo engines need more maintenance than the non-turbo comparisons.

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Interested in a BMW: Read My Recommendation

There are many diverse means to play with BMW reliability.

If you have a plan of buying a new BMW, why not lease it first. You will be in and out of it in a couple of years, and you’ll not need to cope with the pressures of long term ownership. What’s even better is that you can experience the performance of this car in the prime of its lifespan.

Another way is to buy a new car and then sell it after four years. The latest BMWs come with a 4-year, 50k mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, which makes the cost of ownership inexpensive for the initial four years. However, when the warranty period ends, the costs of maintenance spike further than other brands in Germany. The issue with this option is that you’ll end up taking a considerable depreciation hit during the time of ownership.

If you want an old model, you need to be a smart consumer. Old cars are usually superb cars. However, a careless owner can make a high-quality car into a junk. So, follow due diligence and have a professional car mechanic assess the car prior to making a purchase. There are things you need to ask and look for when checking out an older model of BMW. Research thoroughly before spending money.


By any means, BMW isn’t the most dependable car today. However, it surely isn’t the dumpster fire waiting to take your cash like many would have you think. Even if you pay more for this car, I think that the comfort, performance, as well as the attractiveness of this car, outweighs the truth that they are just somewhat reliable!

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