While there were several luxury crossover SUVs in 2013, few could match that year’s BMW X3 safety ratings, spirited performance, and pleasant ride experience. As a luxury compact SUV, the BMW X3 showed a lot of promise with its upscale roomy interior and energetic handling. Many claimed it felt more like driving a sports car than an SUV.
But then a serious problem emerged. What went wrong?
CarComplaints.com shows several complaints about an engine failure in the 2013 BMW X3. The severity rating the site gave the engine problem was its absolute worst score, a perfect 10. On average, reports stated that the engine failed when the car reached around 91,000 miles. Repairs on average cost around $6,500 and required the engine to be rebuilt or replaced.
When the BMW X3 first came out, it received a wonderful reliability score of five out of five from J.D. Power. Consumer Reports, however, ultimately gave it a predicted reliability rating of one out of five. That rating included the lowest scores in two of the biggest areas, engine major and drive system.
What owners had to say
Several complaints about the BMW X3 engine failure were submitted to Car Complaints.
One New York owner explained that their problem started with a low oil pressure alert when the SUV was at 104,000 miles. Within 30 seconds, the drivetrain malfunction warning engaged. The car began shutting down while they were driving on the interstate. They were able to safely navigate across two lanes of merging traffic to get off the road before the engine died. The situation could have gone very differently with disastrous results.
Another Pennsylvania owner with around 74,000 miles on their BMW X3 was driving when their SUV began to shake and just stopped. They were able to get safely off the road, but they had to replace the engine.
A Georgia owner noticed a whining sound coming from their engine when they eased their foot off the accelerator at 85,000 miles. While there were no other symptoms, they made a service appointment. When they returned home, the drivetrain malfunction alert came on. So did the oil pressure alert within 15 seconds.
They had to have their BMW X3 towed to a mechanic. The mechanic let them know the oil pump failed and that they found metal shavings in the oil. They needed a new engine. The owner ended up having a used engine installed for $10,400.
BMW X3 owners submitted complaints to Consumer Reports as well. One owner from Ohio said the problem in their SUV was found during an oil change by the technician. It took three repair attempts to resolve the issue. On the first attempt, the technician broke a sensor that disabled the vehicle. In repairing that, the gasket sustained damage. The repair was intricate enough that BMW dealer technicians struggled.
One California owner had a model with a turbocharged engine. When it started spewing smoke, the engine had to be replaced.
Other issues in the BMW X3
The 2013 models of the BMW X3 had other serious issues including timing chains. There were reports of the timing chains failing on average around 88,000 miles. The cost of this repair is also steep at an average of $8,100. It either required replacing the timing chain or the entire engine.
Another Virginia owner told Consumer Reports that they took their X3 in for brake service. During that appointment, the technician found that the engine’s timing chain was failing but it was replaced under warranty.
One Texas owner told Car Complaints that their X3 had the drivetrain malfunction alert deployed first. After having it towed over 300 miles back to their home, they left the SUV with a trusted mechanic. They learned the timing chain had failed, which required that it be towed to the local BMW dealership. They had 90,000 miles on the SUV and BMW wasn’t willing to help cover any portion of the repair costs.
Another South Carolina owner experienced problems at 85,000 miles. Their X3 was towed to their local BMW dealership, and they learned that the timing chain guide broke. Not only that, but pieces from it also fell into the oil pan and clogged the screen that keeps particles out of the engine. When oil couldn’t get to the engine, it blew up.
The BMW X3, even as a used vehicle, is costly. When you add to that the fact that you may not have it long before you have to pay several thousand dollars for an expensive repair, you may want to consider another compact luxury SUV.