Crossover & Midsize

Why You Should Never Buy the 2011 BMW X5

The SUV lineup from BMW gets better every year. Both the X5 M and X6 M were recently introduced as high-level trims. These cars’ engines can produce over 600 hp, making them more powerful than a Rolls-Royce. The standard X5 also got some new features, like a brand-new interior and plenty of extra standard technology.

Before you buy a BMW X5, there are a few things you should know. According to CarComplaints.com, it has the most reported issues out of any BMW vehicle. If you’re planning to buy a used BMW X5, you may want to avoid one model year in particular.

The BMW X5’s troublesome engine

The 2011 BMW X5 has one notorious engine problem. Many drivers experienced their X5’s engine stalling while they were on the road. In many cases, the engine died completely and drivers were unable to restart the car. Thankfully, no accidents were caused because of this issue, but multiple vehicles caught fire.

To fix the problem, most drivers had to pay around $7,000 for a new engine. Some only had to replace the car’s computer, but even this was an expensive fix. To make matters worse, some drivers still had problems with the engine even after it was replaced.

According to most complaints, the issue happened around the 70,000-mile mark, though some experienced it after driving over 100,000 miles. The engine also only had a two-year warranty. Because of this, BMW did not reimburse the majority of these repair costs.

The 2011 X5 has also had 14 different recalls for various issues. One of them concerns the fuel pump, which may have been the cause of some of the reported engine fires. The fuel pump would stop working because of loose wires, which definitely could have caused the engine to stall.

The X5’s other problems

Models from 2011 are also known for high oil consumption. BMW apparently stated that it was “normal” for the BMW X5’s engine to use a lot of oil. Still, it cost a lot of time and money for drivers trying to get the problem fixed. A class-action lawsuit has been filed against the automaker for this problem.

The 2011 X5 has also had a few reported problems with the transfer case. Some reported that the car would violently jerk and shudder while they were turning the wheels at low speeds. Dealers recommended replacing the transfer case, which usually costs around $1,200.

Other model years to avoid

While 2011 was definitely the worst year for the X5, some severe issues were also reported for other models. One driver reported that their 2008 X5 experienced a complete electrical failure after having been left outside in the rain. The dealer advised that it would cost a nightmarish $10,000 to fix.

The X5 from 2013 also has a known transmission problem. One driver reported a transmission failure due to a faulty mechatronic sensor. On average, this costs around $5,500 to fix. Thankfully, both of these issues were not as common as the stalling engine.

Is the latest BMW X5 a better buy?

BMW X5 is displayed during the second press day at the 89th Geneva International Motor Show
The BMW X5 | Robert Hradil/Getty Images

Beyond those model years, the BMW X5 has very few complaints. The 2017 model has no reported problems, which you can currently buy for around $20,000 cheaper than its original price. According to Consumer Reports, the 2017 X5’s owner satisfaction rating is also very high.

If you want to splurge on the newest BMW, it already has great reviews from critics. The base trim has a powerful 335-hp engine, roomy seats, and a big cargo area. The BMW X5 is a good buy overall as long as you avoid 2011 models.