BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

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ThankYouJack
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BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by ThankYouJack » Wed Dec 09, 2015 4:30 pm

I'm considering buying a used high mileage BMW but don't want to be a huge money pit. It's fine if it's more expensive than a Civic but I don't want things breaking left and right.

If you've owned a (or multiple BMWs), how was the reliability? What did you own, how old was it and would you buy another?

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flossy21
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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by flossy21 » Wed Dec 09, 2015 4:36 pm

I suggest you seek out one of the BMW forums out there and investigate these questions with them for your specific model.

I own 2 BMW's -- 2008 X5 we bought new. Now with 125k miles on it. Minor issues along the way with the most severe being a water pump (electric) replacement and occasional issues with the VANOS (variable valve timing solenoids). The 2nd is a 1999 Z3 convertible w/ 58k miles. I only put about 5,000 miles on it a year. Really no issues to speak of. These Z3 are notorious for poor cooling systems so I replaced it all when I first bought the car (rad, hoses, belts, pulleys, surge tank, etc.)

Not cheap to repair. If you buy used I suggest you get to know an independent mechanic who specializes in German cars. I'd buy them both again without hesitation. Great cars, fun to drive, comfortable...

Goal33
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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by Goal33 » Wed Dec 09, 2015 4:37 pm

My step-dad has an 04 BMW 330i with 200k miles. His experience has been that it's reliable, but general maintenance is quite expensive. He "has a guy" though that fixes it for less than half of dealer prices, otherwise he'd get rid of it at this point. I think having somebody who you can bring it to for reasonable service costs is critical...
A man with one watch always knows what time it is; a man with two watches is never sure.

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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by knpstr » Wed Dec 09, 2015 4:41 pm

My brother had a X5 that was a 1-2 years old, had a variety of issues with it, got a X3 after that and has been without headaches. Perhaps the X5 was a "lemon"? I don't know. But he stayed with BMW despite the X5 issues.
Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking. -Marcus Aurelius

WalterMitty
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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by WalterMitty » Wed Dec 09, 2015 4:44 pm

I don't qualify with first hand info, but both my brother and a friend have owned Bimmers in the past, and both would say BMW stand for "Bring Money With". IMHO you would be crazy to get a used BMW, and especially a high mileage one without a factory warranty. Repairs are crazy expensive....even routine maintenance is expensive.

I have a 2011 Lexus, and so far it's been rock solid, but if you want a dealer to do anything you will be paying many times what most domestic cars charge.

I get Consumer Reports and while I don't have it committed to memory, I do know that BMW still isn't at the top of the list in terms of overall reliability.

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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by Toons » Wed Dec 09, 2015 4:46 pm

I owned a 325I for 18 years.
Very reliable.
Like Mercedes,maintenance can be somewhat more costly.
But that is part of the ownership experience.
You play,,you pay. :happy
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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by bhsince87 » Wed Dec 09, 2015 4:48 pm

I've owned several. First was a 1984 model, last was a 1996. IMO, the quality declined significantly over that time.

Absolutely fun cars, but maintenance cost was high.

The 1996 left me dead on the road twice. Once at about 40,000 miles with a blown timing belt, and again at about 60,000 with a mystery ailment that was never adequately diagnosed.

I would expect they have improved in quality since then. But I won't buy another one.
BH87

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Taylor Larimore
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BMW repair cost

Post by Taylor Larimore » Wed Dec 09, 2015 4:52 pm

ThankYouJack:

I have a neighbor who owns a BMW and parks it in the space next to mine in our condo garage. Both our parking spaces are very narrow.

Shortly after she bought her car, I put a 5"-6" scratch-dent in her fender while backing-out. I left a note telling her the dent was my fault. I asked her to have the dent repaired and "send me the bill."

The bill from her dealer was about $650. :(

Best wishes.
Taylor
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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by jtravisdavid » Wed Dec 09, 2015 4:52 pm

I've owned 3 since 2001. (currently own a 2015 535i). I would only own them under warranty. Good luck.

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alpenglow
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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by alpenglow » Wed Dec 09, 2015 4:56 pm

I owned an 1991 E30 325i. It was lots of fun and great looking, but repairs and maintenance got costly. Other family members have owned them too, with mixed results. My parents had an E36 328i. The water pump failed way too early on a long distance trip. That was great. Going forward, I'll pass on BMWs.

ThankYouJack
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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by ThankYouJack » Wed Dec 09, 2015 5:02 pm

WalterMitty wrote:
I get Consumer Reports and while I don't have it committed to memory, I do know that BMW still isn't at the top of the list in terms of overall reliability.
I just signed up and checked. The 3 Series from 06 - 15 range from average to worse. The newer ones seem more reliable.

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sdsailing
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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by sdsailing » Wed Dec 09, 2015 5:18 pm

The parts are expensive compared to most cars. In many cases the cost will be 2X to 3X.

The labor rates for mechanics are not necessarily higher. However, my sense is that the bill is significantly higher due to more hours billed.

I have had complex and expensive computer related issues on multiple occasions.

However, I have found BMW to be very reliable and not exorbitantly expensive to maintain. However, they are not the most economical.

If cost is a major focus I would not choose a BMW.

Globalviewer58
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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by Globalviewer58 » Wed Dec 09, 2015 5:25 pm

An estimate of True Cost to Own is available on edmunds.com website. For example, a 2014 3-series BMW sedan driven 15,000 miles per year has $0 maintenance expense in years 1-3 but >$5000 in years 4 and 5 combined. You can judge reliability from individual owner comments on the site.

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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by surfstar » Wed Dec 09, 2015 5:26 pm

Get a Mazda. "poor man's BMW"
It will drive nicer and sportier vs its competition. It won't be as quiet or luxurious as a BMW. But they're much cheaper to own.

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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by swl » Wed Dec 09, 2015 5:34 pm

Have had a few, both M and non-M. Generally had pretty good drivetrain reliability with the naturally aspirated engines, higher running costs (esp tires - spent maybe 3k+ / yr on these alone), and terrible reliability of "other" motors / pumps (like soft top hydraulic pump).

Some of the older turbo engines have reliability issues, stock, but can be mitigated by preemptive repairs / replacements.

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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by edge » Wed Dec 09, 2015 5:38 pm

I have heard the SUVs have absolutely horrible reliability from a couple of neighbors who have X3s and X5s.

I have owned an M3 in the 00s and it needed serious repairs (e.g. broken water pump) on an annual basis. I will likely not buy another BMW again because they are not a good value and are not the drivers cars they used to be. The electronic steering, frankly, remains horrific. General maintenance costs were high but I knew that going in - rotors/pads & tires for that type of car are expensive. I can't say what the 32xi or 52xi badge-type cars cost to maintain - I also can't fathom paying the badge premium for those excruciatingly slow cars.

I certainly would not buy one that was out of warranty or near to being out of warranty.
Last edited by edge on Wed Dec 09, 2015 5:44 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Will do good
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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by Will do good » Wed Dec 09, 2015 5:39 pm

We have a '04 535, super fun drive, very reliable but it is little expensive to maintain and repair.
We are planning to get a new model soon.

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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by dbr » Wed Dec 09, 2015 5:41 pm

Globalviewer58 wrote:An estimate of True Cost to Own is available on edmunds.com website. For example, a 2014 3-series BMW sedan driven 15,000 miles per year has $0 maintenance expense in years 1-3 but >$5000 in years 4 and 5 combined. You can judge reliability from individual owner comments on the site.
Isn't that low three year number due to maintenance and warranty included in the car purchase for three years? This does not imply that the vehicle is reliable.

Is it that hard to find statistics on this subject? Actually, yes, it is hard. I think it is a defensible statement that the only brand that is consistently top of the list in reliability is Lexus. It might be a defensible statement that Jeep and Fiat are at the bottom. I'm not sure anyone else is other than "in the middle" taken on degree of difference and uncertainty in predicting future performance.

It is documented that the cost of repairs on a BMW is high.

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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by undertheradar » Wed Dec 09, 2015 5:48 pm

99 Z3 M Coupe here. Bought it in 2001 and have maintained it myself the entire time, now with 45k miles. Changed coolant, trans/diff fluid, brake fluid, oil, etc. Been absolutely trouble free and brought me many miles of smiles. Cost of parts is not that much different than our Subaru daily drivers. Check out bimmerforums.com, there's plenty of knowledgeable folks over there eager to help. :sharebeer
I can't relate to the newer ones, but I did get a ride in a '12 M3. Ooh Boy! :mrgreen:

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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by kjvmartin » Wed Dec 09, 2015 6:16 pm

Retired/part time contractor out of my office drove a used 7 series for a 2 hour commute a couple days a week. He was constantly replacing the stabilizer bars (or something like that) on the front end of the car. His comment was that they were engineered to give a comfortable ride, but to wear out rather rather quickly. He was constantly looking for that part through various channels to snag them for good prices and he also had "a guy" to do the work.

If you've got money to burn and enjoy how they ride, why not? I second the vote for the Mazda. Terrific cars!

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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by Elysium » Wed Dec 09, 2015 6:24 pm

ThankYouJack wrote:I'm considering buying a used high mileage BMW but don't want to be a huge money pit.
You can stop right there. Those two highlighted parts don't go well together. BMW's are only good when they are new and under warranty, a high mileage BMW is a money pit, there is a good reason why they sell for less than half the price after 50K miles. A Toyota or Lexus on the other hand is just getting started at that many miles.

Learn to do your own work on the car for smaller things and be prepared to find parts online for discount and find a good mechanic who will do the work for cheaper than $400 and hour. If you can do all this, then it is a fun to own car. Otherwise lease one new, drive for 3 years and get all the fun you want, then give it back when lease is over. Trust me, it will be more economical than buying.

Would I buy another one? Not sure, very unlikely, may be after I am retired and have copious amounts of time and have no need to get anywhere in a hurry.

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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by thomasbayarea » Wed Dec 09, 2015 6:29 pm

-duplicate-
Last edited by thomasbayarea on Wed Dec 09, 2015 6:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by thomasbayarea » Wed Dec 09, 2015 6:29 pm

ThankYouJack wrote:If you've owned a (or multiple BMWs), how was the reliability? What did you own, how old was it?
2011 BMW 328i with 55k miles now (the Honda Civic of BMWs). Not very reliable. Many things broke under warranty and after warranty expired I replaced 6 spark plugs and coils due to persistent misfiring (DIY).
ThankYouJack wrote:Would you buy another?
I would not, but it's the wife's car - and I know she will :beer

ThankYouJack
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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by ThankYouJack » Wed Dec 09, 2015 6:34 pm

surfstar wrote:Get a Mazda. "poor man's BMW"
It will drive nicer and sportier vs its competition. It won't be as quiet or luxurious as a BMW. But they're much cheaper to own.
I currently own one, but I need a 4 passenger vehicle and would prefer a convertible.

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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by hirlaw » Wed Dec 09, 2015 6:47 pm

I have two, an '07 Z4 and a '13 528i. They have been trouble-free. However, I would not recommend buying a high mileage BMW. In fact, if buying used, I would only buy certified, which comes with extended warranty and free maintenance for 2 years. Ordinary maintenance, such as brakes, etc., are very high relative to a Honda. I don't even want to think what an a/c compressor or the like would run.

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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by AZAttorney11 » Wed Dec 09, 2015 6:56 pm

BMW is the most overrated car manufacturer out there. Wouldn't dare drive a high mileage one. They simply don't pass the Target or grocery store tests. Drive to a busy store on the weekends and count the number of used Toyotas, Hondas, and Nissans. Then compare to the number of old BMWs, Mercedes, and Audis. There will be plenty of new German cars, but not many used, high mileage ones.

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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by jdb » Wed Dec 09, 2015 7:27 pm

Query: why are BMW dealerships among most profitable and sought after car dealership franchises, along with Mercedes and Cadillac? Not because of car sales. Because they make a fortune on repairs and service. Have had three, grade them A, B and F. The B was 3 series automatic many years ago, fun car. The F was most recent, an ix 5 series station wagon, what a piece of junk, glad only had 3 year lease. Only worse vehicle was Audi A8, don't get me started on that lemon. The A grade goes to one of our all time favorites, a 5 series with stick shift many years ago (do they still make old fashioned stick shifts?) with big stick shift, my wife loved to drive it until she got 8 months pregnant and the stick shift interfered with her, um, exterior. But all were very high maintenance vehicles, going to service in morning was like deli at rush hour when needed to take number for service. Would never buy one out of warranty. Good luck.

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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by bmsuter » Wed Dec 09, 2015 9:01 pm

For my second car, I bought a used BMW 3 series with 107,00 miles. It was one of the worst decisions I have ever made financially. I got rid of it at 143,000 miles. If you don't work on cars, I wouldn't suggest getting a BMW. The parts are more expensive and the repairs will be extremely expensive if you don't do them yourself. Get yourself a Honda, Toyota, Nissan, or Subaru. If you are stuck on luxury, go with Acura or Lexus.

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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by clutchied » Wed Dec 09, 2015 9:17 pm

My current car is an '02 BMW 530i.

It has 175,000 miles on it currently. I've had it since 163,000 and since that time I've had to do quite a bit of stuff that was related to neglected maintenance from the previous owner.

water pump, belts, cooling system, thermostat, Crank case vent valve(this took me 12 hours to fix), brakes and rotors, tires, front control arms and thrust arms, battery and alternator, brake wear cable.


I paid next to nothing for the car and I do most of the work myself but it's been a pretty expensive car thus far. Maybe $3k dropped on it in the last 2 years. I'm hoping I'm over the hump at this point... but I know I still need to do spark plugs and I still have a water/coolant leak on one of the heater pipes.

I would never have bought the car if I wasn't willing to do most of the work myself. That $3k for repairs would have probably been $7k or more at a shop.

With that being said, I love the car. It is amazingly fun to drive and I love the 3.0L straight six.


I'm saving my pennies so I might get an E90 M3 next or an Audi A4/S4. not sure yet, we get snow and ice here so the AWD would be great. The M3 would have to be shelved for the winter.
Last edited by clutchied on Wed Dec 09, 2015 9:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by peterinjapan » Wed Dec 09, 2015 9:38 pm

I love my BMWs, a 2011 series 1 in the U.S. and a Z4 here in Japan. They're fabulous beasts and I love them. That said, if I were going to really go by value, I've always felt Mazda cars offer the best value, especially when you factor in the "fun" you almost always get with their cars. Their diesels are awesome, too, if you're in a place where that makes sense -- we drive a CX-5 diesel as our family car here in Japan.

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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by mbk734 » Wed Dec 09, 2015 9:47 pm

If you're interested in BMW lease one so the maintenance and problems are not your problem or get a CPO with extended warranty. You may find they can be a money pit out of warranty. You're better off with a used Lexus if you want reliable luxury. It is ranked #1 in reliability with Toyota #2.
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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by SrGrumpy » Wed Dec 09, 2015 9:53 pm

I have a 1996 BMW 318 convertible with 180,000 miles. Looks sexier than most other cars on the road, especially with my wife behind the wheel and the top down. Excellent reliability, but wear and tear fixes can be costly. It's just one of those things. Would I buy another BMW? Not when they look like every other car.

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Taylor Larimore
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The bad and the good

Post by Taylor Larimore » Wed Dec 09, 2015 10:21 pm

SrGrumpy wrote:I have a 1996 BMW 318 convertible with 180,000 miles. Looks sexier than most other cars on the road, especially with my wife behind the wheel and the top down.
Grumpy:

in 1950 I met the Orange Bowl Theme Girl "behind the wheel and the top down" in a blue Buick convertible with a huge Great Dane dog at her side. It was the first car with electric roll-down windows. I was impressed.

We married. The automatic roll-down windows repeatedly broke (in the open position) drenching us when it rained. The repair bills were astronomical. The dog drooled and we eventually flew him to friends in Cuba. I learned that Pat owed high-interest car-payments. We tried to pay the loan off but the lender's note required that we pay the interest anyway.

The "sexy"car was a disaster but our marriage lasted 62 years.

Best wishes
Taylor
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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by TareNeko » Thu Dec 10, 2015 12:13 am

clutchied wrote: I'm saving my pennies so I might get an E90 M3 next or an Audi A4/S4. not sure yet, we get snow and ice here so the AWD would be great. The M3 would have to be shelved for the winter.
M3 has LSD. Get good winter tires and you'll be fine.

clutchied
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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by clutchied » Thu Dec 10, 2015 7:27 am

TareNeko wrote:
clutchied wrote: I'm saving my pennies so I might get an E90 M3 next or an Audi A4/S4. not sure yet, we get snow and ice here so the AWD would be great. The M3 would have to be shelved for the winter.
M3 has LSD. Get good winter tires and you'll be fine.
Normally yes, but my driveway.... It's long and steep. FWD's go up after shoveling and salt. RWD might go up 1/3 before getting stuck.

It's a tragedy....

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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by JimmyD » Thu Dec 10, 2015 9:19 am

I seriously considered trading in my Mercedes C300 for a BMW 328, but ultimately decided against it for the following reasons:

1 - My mom has a 128 and it experiences weird issues that require a trip to the dealer at least once a year. Convertible top, electrical, etc.

2 - My manager has a 5 series and I'm taking him to the dealership at least a few times a year to fix a random problem.

3 - I like to get my maintenance performed by manufacturer-certified mechanics. Obviously with a European brand, that's going to be expensive.

4 - I live in Atlanta and I'm pretty sure every single person in this city drives a BMW 328. I don't like to follow the herd.

5 - At this point in my life, long term cost of ownership and brand reliability are my primary drivers for vehicle purchases.

The above being said, I recently purchased an Acura TLX and am thrilled with it. Atlanta dealerships were saturated with them and I got it for nearly $7,000 off MSRP.

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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by Chan_va » Thu Dec 10, 2015 9:29 am

I have owned 3 High mileage BMW's over the years (>100k miles). They are fun, but expect to spend ~$2-3K/yr in Mx.

I eventually tired of that and switched brands.

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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by bigred77 » Thu Dec 10, 2015 9:32 am

My family currently owns 2, a 2008 328i and a 2007 X3. Both are right around 90,000 miles. I bought both when they were about 5 years old with about 60k miles on them.

The maintenance and repairs are more expensive than my last car (toyota) but these cars are way more fun to drive and own. I have an independent mechanic close to me that does all the work. I have probably averaged $2000 - $2500 a year in maintenance over the past 3 years (for both cars combined) including replacement tires for both cars. These cars are not the cheapest things to own but I have found the price of ownership to be reasonable.

I hope to hold on to both my cars for 3-5 more years.

tim1999
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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by tim1999 » Thu Dec 10, 2015 9:51 am

They are money pits after the warranty expires. Especially high mileage ones where the second or third owner neglected routine maintenance/repairs, which in my experience is common.

I've always wanted to buy a low 1999-2001 7 series sedan but the maintenance just scared me...I couldn't find one with a complete and well documented service history...gave up.

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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by TareNeko » Thu Dec 10, 2015 10:28 am

clutchied wrote:
TareNeko wrote:
clutchied wrote: I'm saving my pennies so I might get an E90 M3 next or an Audi A4/S4. not sure yet, we get snow and ice here so the AWD would be great. The M3 would have to be shelved for the winter.
M3 has LSD. Get good winter tires and you'll be fine.
Normally yes, but my driveway.... It's long and steep. FWD's go up after shoveling and salt. RWD might go up 1/3 before getting stuck.

It's a tragedy....
Well, then reverse into your driveway. Instant FWD :)

ssquared87
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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by ssquared87 » Thu Dec 10, 2015 10:29 am

BMW reliability varies by specific model, which is probably why there is such a variation in replies. Personally I have one, love it, haven't had issues, and would absolutely buy another.

One of the most reliable models that BMW made was the 2006-2011 328, and more specifically the 2010 and 2011 versions(which even consumer reports rates as above average reliability). The 335, which is the exact same car but with a more powerful turbo charged engine had way below average reliablity because the high pressure fuel pumps kept failing among other things. Newer versions of the 3 series (F30/F32) have proven extremely reliable in all variants from 320, 328 335/340 and M3. So my best advice would be to look at the history for the specific model you're interested in. Bimmerpost and Bimmerforums are great resources, and BMW has a great community so you won't have trouble finding answers to your questions. Honda, Mazda and Tesla also seem to have great communities, and I see that as a huge selling point.

I'm driving a 2011 (e90) 328 which I bought with 37k miles on it. I'm now up to 60k miles and have no issues other than changing out the spark plugs, which is easy to do on your own and costs about $90 for the OEM plugs (getbmwparts.com is a great way to get the original parts if you're planning on doing work yourself. they're a dealer somewhere on the east coast who discounts parts heavily)

My brakes and rotors are also original and have plenty of life left. Good luck getting 60K miles out of a Honda pad/rotor. My TSX needed new rear pads at 27k miles, and now at 40k the rotors are shot. While you may pay more for parts on the BMW, they do last quite a long time.

Lots of people mentioned tires. You can put any tire you want on a BMW, it doesn't have a specific/brand model. But if you use tires which are not performance oriented, the car will feel soft and handling won't be as sharp as you'd expect. The best thing you can do is get rid of Run Flats if your car has them, and throw on non run-flat Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. Price varies by size but for non-staggered sizing, on 17" rims, they cost me $130/tire. Doesn't seem all that extravagant to me. I've got a flat fix kit in the trunk and if that doesn't do it, a call to triple A will solve my problems.

And Whoever posted that they were paying $400 an hour for service should get a mental exam. On the east coast, BMW dealers charge about $120/hr, which is the in the same neighborhood of what a Honda/Acura dealer charges. The parts are a bit more expensive though. That being said, I plan on doing work myself if i need anything or taking it to an Indy mechanic specializing in BMW. For oil changes though, I go to the dealer as they charge $79. Oil change interval according to BMW is around 15k miles but depends on how you drive, the car monitors it. There's some debate about this on the BMW forums, and some people choose to do 7.5k or 10k mile intervals to be safe. I will say that one of the members on there has 275k+ miles on his 2006 330 and has followed the BMW maintenance schedule. He has had to replace the water pump twice, and he had the driver seat redone because it was getting worn out, but other than that, hasn't had any repairs other than normal wear and tear. Take it with a grain of salt as it's just one experience amongst thousands

surfstar
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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by surfstar » Thu Dec 10, 2015 11:24 am

peterinjapan wrote: Their diesels are awesome, too, if you're in a place where that makes sense -- we drive a CX-5 diesel as our family car here in Japan.
If they brought that engine over here, I might actually buy a new car for once. It would have the utility of my Saturn Vue and the mpg of my Civic! I have given up on waiting for it, though.

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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by kellyfj » Thu Dec 10, 2015 11:43 am

I had a 2003 BMW 330XI until 2012. It was an awesome car to drive even in the snowy northeast. Drove it less than 60,000 miles in 9 years and still maintenance was expensive - what got me were the leaking gaskets causing oil smells and "regular" torn CV boots every few years thanks to the snow/ice/junk on the roads.

Even small fender benders turned into $1000 out of pocket expenses.

The other issue is that the driving experience is so optimized that you will feel even slightly dented wheels (from potholes) and you feel the need to fix them too - so there's expenses you choose to pay because the ride is just so awesome.

I now have a Honda Accord and my expenses are almost ZERO. It was a fun ride in my 30s but now I'd rather more money to to my kids college fund.

Net Net: It was expensive but doable.
My advice - if you HAVE to get one - just lease it for as long as the warranty (3-4 years)

Best,

-Frank

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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by Johno » Thu Dec 10, 2015 12:05 pm

ssquared87 wrote:BMW reliability varies by specific model, which is probably why there is such a variation in replies.

And Whoever posted that they were paying $400 an hour for service should get a mental exam. On the east coast, BMW dealers charge about $120/hr, which is the in the same neighborhood of what a Honda/Acura dealer charges. The parts are a bit more expensive though. That being said, I plan on doing work myself if i need anything or taking it to an Indy mechanic specializing in BMW. For oil changes though, I go to the dealer as they charge $79. Oil change interval according to BMW is around 15k miles but depends on how you drive, the car monitors it. There's some debate about this on the BMW forums, and some people choose to do 7.5k or 10k mile intervals to be safe.
I agree if you read Consumer Reports' detailed tables, which is the best (not the only, not infallible) source of reliability data with reasonable sample sizes and lots of like to like comparisons over time, some BMW models have had quite good reliability, others haven't. A lot of brands are like that, perhaps most. Some brands have a pretty consistent records of excellent results with some exceptions (Lexus), some have pretty consistently poor records but BMW's overall standing is about average over time. So it might be accurate to say BMW's have a relatively high cost of maintenance related ownership, but pointing to the brand as particularly unreliable per se, which you sometimes hear, is not backed up by the stats.

Also I agree you have to compare relative apples to apples on repair expense. Our Lexus was completely reliable, but we got the maintenance done at Lexus (I'm not saying that's *why* it was reliable, but mainly wife's car and she wanted that assurance) and their labor rates are as high as anyone's and parts not cheap.

It's too soon to give useful first hand feedback on our first BMW, 2015 328i xdrive, no problems in just over a year. It called BMW asking for an oil change just before the year mark ~6k miles. It's a near perfect balance of the things we want in a car, looks can't be beat IMO, we will be very happy with it for a long time I think if the reliability pans out. We don't have a driveway and the car is stored in a mechanical rack type garage, so while I have reasonable mechanical skills DIY maintenance/repair potential is very limited. I'll have to find and evaluate independent mechanics after the 4 yr 'free' maintenance period, but it's not likely the car is going to get to the very high mileages mentioned in some posts even if we keep it 10 yrs like we did the Lexus. I wouldn't buy any used car at this point.
Last edited by Johno on Thu Dec 10, 2015 12:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by gravlax » Thu Dec 10, 2015 12:05 pm

ThankYouJack wrote:I'm considering buying a used high mileage BMW but don't want to be a huge money pit. It's fine if it's more expensive than a Civic but I don't want things breaking left and right.

If you've owned a (or multiple BMWs), how was the reliability? What did you own, how old was it and would you buy another?
I own a 1998 BMW M3. It is a ton of fun to drive and pretty reliable. I'm not sure if I'd say it is as reliable as a Toyota Camry, but it is pretty close for such a well performing car.

I've got 165,000 miles on it, and have had no major problems. There have been several small things - minor electrical things for example, but engine, drivetrain and suspension are all rock solid.

I know people who own BMWs who take them to the dealer for every little thing that goes wrong. This can get expensive. If you have *any* mechanical aptitude at all, you can save lots of money doing the small things yourself. For example, the lights on my shift knob stopped working a few years ago. I went online and found a 15 minute fix and did it myself. One or two other small cosmetic problems are all that I've ever had.

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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by gravlax » Thu Dec 10, 2015 12:09 pm

ThankYouJack, what make and model are you considering?

I think it makes a big difference. For example, the newer 328i models are very reliable. They sell a lot and have perfected this design. The high end models, like the new M6 for example, have lots that can go wrong and are built out of high end components. That kind of full on race car architecture is bound to have problems from pushing the performance envelope so much. A different design goal.

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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by anonyvestor » Thu Dec 10, 2015 12:33 pm

I have owned two 4WD 3 series over 10 years, and have observed:

1 Stock tires suck. After 3 flats in 1-2 years, I switched to Michelin - problem solved
2 The electronic alarms are more annoying than most, and seem to go on and on
3 Service is variable. But there are plenty of capable independent shops.

The design is hard to beat. They have been very reliable, and despite my wish to find a different car, I was unable to find a better alternative.

I would buy one again.

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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by randomguy » Thu Dec 10, 2015 12:34 pm

Johno wrote: I agree if you read Consumer Reports' detailed tables, which is the best (not the only, not infallible) source of reliability data with reasonable sample sizes and lots of like to like comparisons over time, some BMW models have had quite good reliability, others haven't. A lot of brands are like that, perhaps most. Some brands have a pretty consistent records of excellent results with some exceptions (Lexus), some have pretty consistently poor records but BMW's overall standing is about average over time. So it might be accurate to say BMW's have a relatively high cost of maintenance related ownership, but pointing to the brand as particularly unreliable per se, which you sometimes hear, is not backed up by the stats.
I think it is important to realize that when a company is ranked let say 10th in CR reliability (or any other data set), that doesn't mean the car is unreliable. It just means that there are 9 other that scored higher. The absolute reliability might still be pretty decent. You can also have big relative differences (1 incident/100 cars vs 2 incidents/100 cars) but in reality you chances of being affected are still very small. You tend to have to go down to the bottom of the list to see cars with things like 10x the amount of incidents as the top ones.

My somewhat limited (i.e. like 20-30 cars between me and acquitences) is the cars (MB, BMW, Porsche, Audi) are all pretty reliable in the sense that they don't break down and leave you on the side of the road in the first 10 years/150k miles. And they tend not to even have a done of repair work alone the way. There are exceptions (audi had issues a while back with the ignation coils in their 1.8 engines) for individual models and trims. What does add up is that cost of replacement parts for normal maintence. Instead of getting 300 dollar 16" tires, you end up with 1200 dollar 19" ones. And those 19" ones instead of lasting 60k miles are good for 40k. And the battery instead of being 100 bucks is 300 because of the amount of work required to take it out. And so on.

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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by Random Poster » Thu Dec 10, 2015 12:43 pm

ssquared87 wrote:My brakes and rotors are also original and have plenty of life left. Good luck getting 60K miles out of a Honda pad/rotor. My TSX needed new rear pads at 27k miles, and now at 40k the rotors are shot. While you may pay more for parts on the BMW, they do last quite a long time.
And for another data point:

My 2009 Honda CR-V has around 77,000 miles on it. The brakes have not need to be changed or replaced or re-machined in any way whatsoever, and during my last oil change (about 3,000 miles ago) it was noted that my brake pads aren't even worn halfway through yet.

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Re: BMW current and past owners -- how was the reliability and would you buy another?

Post by ThankYouJack » Thu Dec 10, 2015 12:55 pm

gravlax wrote:ThankYouJack, what make and model are you considering?

I think it makes a big difference. For example, the newer 328i models are very reliable. They sell a lot and have perfected this design. The high end models, like the new M6 for example, have lots that can go wrong and are built out of high end components. That kind of full on race car architecture is bound to have problems from pushing the performance envelope so much. A different design goal.
3__ ci. I want something fun to drive, a convertible and 4 passenger so I can occasionally drive my kids if my wife has our family car. But it's not a car which I would drive a lot (a few thousand miles a year) which is why I was thinking older used. But the cost of repairs from this thread and CR's poor reliability ratings are making me lean towards something else.

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