BMW is one of the most popular brands in the auto industry, so it’s no surprise that tons of BMW models have flooded the used-car market. But the big question is: are BMWs worth the money? Well, to answer that, there are several factors you have to put into consideration before checking out a used BMW. To begin with, the reliability of some BMWs is middling at best. While there are some remarkably reliable BMW models, there are also many money pit models you have to steer clear of.
Classic BMW models from the 80s and 90s are quite reliable, but you may have to break the bank to get one. On the other hand, a number of modern BMW models from the 2000s are plagued with defects, recalls and complaints, as you will get to see in this list. Beyond these models having their fair share of headache-inducing issues, BMW is one of the most expensive non-exotic auto brands to maintain and repair. With all this in mind, here are 10 BMW models you should never buy used.
10 2013-2018 BMW X1
The BMW X1 is an affordable vehicle with impressive performance, but it comes with loads of problems you can’t ignore, even if you tried. For one, the 2013-2018 model years have all been recalled due to engine problems. And many drivers complain that the issue arises just after the vehicle is out of warranty.
But if there’s any particular year to avoid, it’s the 2014 X1, which is weighed down by engine issues in addition to problems with the paint, transmission, AC/heater, exhaust system, and windows. These problems will cost around $1,750 to fix annually and there are 5 recalls and 103 complaints on the 2014 BMW X1 alone.
9 2007, 2013 BMW X3
Designed to be just a little less compact than the BMW X5, the X3 was introduced in 2003 to compete with the Range Rover Discovery and Audi Q5. But over the years, some models like the 2007 and 2013 X3 have not lived up to expectations.
While engine problems seem to be a general issue with BMW vehicles, these model years seem to have it worse, with numerous complaints about engine oil leaks, engine overheating, coolant leaks, and timing chain guide failure. The 2007 X3 has over 4 recalls and 296 complaints, while the 2013 X3 has recorded 5 recalls and 328 complaints.
8 2011 BMW X6
The BMW X6 is a sports activity coupe distinguished by its chiseled profile and fastback roofline. Although there aren’t as many complaints about the X6 as the X3, it would be important to note that a fair number of X6s struggle with releasing the electric handbrake due to handbrake actuator failure.
The worst model year of the X6 is 2011, with over 12 recalls recorded for that year alone. Apart from having to deal with the tendency of the tailgate spoiler wobbling or coming off entirely, owners of the X6 expressed worries about the diesel engine breaking down without warning. Owners of the X6 spend close to $2,000 annually to keep it in good shape.
7 2008 BMW M3
The BMW M3 offers an exhilarating driving experience for those looking for a luxury daily driver, weekend cruiser, or track monster. But it’s far from being perfect. The most common issue with the M3 has to do with power steering hose leaks, which necessitate immediate replacement.
Owners of the 2006 M3 have raised concerns about fuel pump and blower final stage fan resistor failures. The 2008 M3 is the worst model year, with 5 recalls and 101 complaints. Owners of this model have decried the incessant engine failures and this problem costs a lot of money to fix.
6 2011-2013 BMW 3-Series
The 3-Series is one of BMW’s best-selling models ever, accounting for roughly 25% of the brand’s annual total sales figures, according to a 2010 BMW Group report. But while BMW is smiling to the bank, thanks to the 3-Series, customers are crying to the mechanic shop. According to RepairPal, you’d spend roughly $1,030 every year to keep the 3 Series on the road.
Owners of the 3-Series have complained about oil on the driver's side of the engine and low oil indicator light turning on, which requires you to get a new oil filter housing gasket. Also, given the tendency of the flex disc to be easily worn out, the car may excessively vibrate when you are driving. To fix this problem, you need to replace the flex disc.
5 2011 BMW X5
There's no denying that the BMW X5 is fun to drive, but you shouldn't base your buying decision on that alone. Aside from the fact that most model years come with at least five recalls, they also seem to suffer from engine problems, which are quite pricey to fix.
According to this driver, his BMW X5 shut down while driving in the cold. To resolve the engine issue, you should have around $2,300, and there’s no guarantee that the problem won't arise in the near future. The 2011 X5 is the worst model year, with 16 recalls.
4 2008 BMW 5-Series
With the roomy cabin and thrilling performance of the BMW 5-Series models, it's understandable why you may want to consider it. But like most performance-driven and comfortable cars, there are problems that you can't overlook. For one, the 535i tends to be prone to problems with the engine cooling fan, brakes, and even taillights.
These defects led to the combined recollection of over 700,000 vehicles for the 2008 535i model. The most common problem with the BMW 5-Series models is water pump failure, which costs an average of $1,070 to fix.
3 2006 BMW 7-Series
There's no denying that many people would jump at the chance of driving the BMW 7-Series full-size luxury sedan, but if you go beyond the face value, we are not so sure if you would go for it. Many BMW 7-Series owners complain about engine stuttering when driving at high speed.
Another issue with the BMW 7-Series you can't turn a blind eye to is the sudden loss of brake power, which causes a delay before the car comes to a halt and may lead to an accident. It would cost around $1,110 annually to keep a BMW 7-Series in shape.
2 2018-2020 BMW 8-Series
Just 9 years after its introduction in 1990, BMW pulled the plug on the 8-Series due to poor sales. But the Bavarian carmaker decided to bring it back in 2018, a move which some may say was unnecessary because, even though sales slightly improved, it's not the go-to for those looking for a reliable luxury coupe or convertible.
The 2018-2020 BMW 8-Series models suffer from engine misfiring, power steering box problems, and exhaust rattling. You may spend up to $1,454 annually to keep the 2018 BMW 8-Series on the road.
1 2003 BMW Z4
Even though the BMW Z4 delivers punchy acceleration, that's not the only factor to consider when getting a used sports car. When it comes to reliability, the BMW Z4 is quite disappointing, occupying the bottom four spots of luxury compact cars according to RepairPal.
Annual maintenance and repairs of the Z4 may take around $1,300 from your pocket, with a 20% chance it would require some major form of repair within the first five years of ownership. Even if you may want to settle for a Z4, avoid the 2003 model year, which is plagued with problems involving the steering, fuel system, cooling system, engine, seat belts, and airbags.