Skip to main content

The BMW 3 Series is one of the most iconic luxury cars. Its high-performance M3 trim was once considered “the Ultimate Driving Machine,” a slogan BMW used to market this car for several years. All vehicles have some issues, even those that top best-of lists. Let’s look at the most common BMW 3 Series problems and how to fix them.

The most common BMW 3 Series problems that owners report

The automotive repair and maintenance site RepairPal collects data from owners to provide the most common issues with every vehicle. The best-selling BMW 3 Series is the 328i base model. The three top problems with this affordable BMW car are as follows:

  • Oil leaks from the lower engine area — reported by over 200 owners
  • Blower final stage fan resistor failure — reported by more than 100 owners
  • Outside mirror folding out too far — reported by over 80 owners

Given that the BMW 3 Series has been in production since 1975, those are small numbers of problems.

What can owners do about oil leaks in this BMW car?

Owners experiencing a burning smell or oil drips on the ground likely have an oil leak from the lower engine area. This common BMW problem often occurs after 60,000 miles. Drivers must replace the valve cover gasket to fix the issue. The cost of this replacement averages $600 to $700.

Various symptoms contribute to 1 of the most common BMW 3 Series problems

A used red 2014 BMW 328i cruises a coastal road.
An F30 3 Series | BMW

The blower final stage fan resistor could fail in this BMW car and appears through a few symptoms. They are variations in heater fan speeds, the fan not turning off when the car is turned off, or a fan that won’t turn on. This BMW 3 Series problem typically occurs at 96,000 miles or more and requires a blower motor resistor replacement. The average cost is about $250 to $380.

What should owners do if the power folding mirrors fold out too far?

If the BMW 3 Series’ power folding mirrors fold beyond the standard position, the owner should contact a certified service technician. They can reprogram the system to correct the mirror’s home position. This issue typically occurs after 98,000 miles.

Is the BMW 3 Series a reliable luxury car?

The BMW 3 Series earned an above-average reliability score of 3.5 out of 5.0 from RepairPal. That places the 328i 19th out of 31 models RepairPal lists in the luxury midsize car class. This ranking is based on three factors:

  • Cost: The BMW 3 Series’ average annual repair and maintenance costs are $773, compared with $739 for all luxury midsize cars.
  • Frequency: 3 Series owners take their vehicles for unscheduled repairs 0.95 times per year, compared to 0.6 for the class.
  • Severity: The probability of severe repairs for the BMW 3 Series is 12%, on par with the 12% for the class.

Is the BMW 3 Series a good luxury car?

The BMW 3 Series is an excellent luxury car, especially among affordable models. U.S. News & World Report ranks the 3 Series eighth out of 22 models the site has reviewed. This BMW car boasts impressive handling and acceleration across trim levels. The base-model 328i gets decent gas mileage, while the high-performance M3 is the most exciting track-ready trim in the lineup.