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BMW has held a respectable place in the automotive industry for years. While there are several luxury car manufacturers, few can match BMW’s safety ratings, spirited performance, and exceptional ride experience. And as a luxury brand, the manufacturer promises a lot with every upgrade. However, no car is perfect, and some owners have reported a few common BMW problems.

A person wipes a BMW logo with a cloth.
BMW | Uli Deck/picture alliance via Getty Images

1. Water pump problems cause overheating and cooling system failure

Nobody wants to see their shiny car leaking coolant, especially a luxury model from BMW. However, several BMW models are prone to severe water pump problems. CarComplaints reports that BMW faced a lawsuit in 2020 over a defective water pump for several models, including BMW N55, 325Ci, X1, X3 xDrive, Z4 sDrive, and plenty more. The models notoriously overheat because of faulty water pumps and a leaky coolant. 

Owners report their water pump failing at an average mileage of 56,000-155,000, despite the manufacturer’s failure to specify the recommended interval. A car with a problematic water pump cracks easily, leaking the coolant to the thermometer or melting the electrical plug attached to the engine, causing engine failure.

According to RepairPal, faulty water pumps will almost always need a replacement at some point in the car’s lifetime. If the problem’s unchecked, owners have to go through gallons and gallons of coolant to prevent overheating and replace one or two water pumps. Depending on the BMW model, water pump replacement costs between $570-$607

2. Oil leak in the engine area causes wear in the internal engine parts

According to RepairPal, another one of the most common BMW problems is an oil leak in the engine area. Owners of 530i, X3, X5, and 325i complain of oil leakage or a burning smell from the lower engine area. Users say the problem often occurs after 60,000 miles of driving. 

Continuous oil leakage causes a reduction in the oil pressure and engine capacity. Left unaddressed, the leak can lower oil levels and cause premature wear on the internal engine parts. The driver must replace the valve gasket to prevent further damage. The replacement cost varies with the model, but on average, the car owners might spend between $581 and $713.

Irrespective of the model or year, BMW cars are notorious for leaking oil out of the motor several times for different reasons over the car’s lifetime.

3. Engine failure causes drivetrain malfunction

Owners of the 2013 BMW X3 reported to CarComplaints about engine failure. The severity rating on the website stated the engine issue was its absolute worst score—a perfect 10. Besides the X3, BMW N20 and N26 engines are also problematic and are subject to a lawsuit.

Drivers say their car engines failed after reaching around 91,000 miles. The engine failure appears to be tied to the oil leakage problem. One New York driver complained that the issue started with a low oil pressure when the BMW X3 hit 104,000 miles.

Within 30 seconds, the car engaged the drivetrain malfunction warning. The vehicle started shutting down while they were driving. The driver was able to safely navigate two lanes of merging traffic to get off the road before the engine died.

Repairing an engine failure costs around $6,500. The repair requires rebuilding or replacing the entire engine. 

BMW promises impressive performance with its car lineup. However, owners have reported the most common problems that potential buyers should be aware of, as they can mean a huge expenditure not long after purchase.


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