Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Did you get a great deal? Let us know in the Values & Prices Paid section!
Meet your fellow owners in our Owners Clubs

BMW 3-Series Maintenance and Repair



  • HCM5HCM5 Posts: 2
    We have a 2004 BMW 330xi with 20,000 miles that is intermittently starting. We turn the key and all the lights go on, but there is no engine ignition or even any sound. Sometimes, if we follow with a quick 2nd turn, the car starts fine. First time in March 2008, had it fully checked at our BMW dealership, only duplicated the episode once and could not find anything obviously wrong, though they mentioned maybe the key was a problem. The car was completely fine for the next 9 months. Then a few weeks ago after our first cold spell, it started again. Same thing, first turn of the key, just the lights and maybe a slight whoosh or humming noise from the engine area. Maybe, will start with the 2nd quick key turn. We again took it to our dealership. They kept the car for a week, ran the same computer diagnostics, could find nothing wrong, and this time replaced the main key. We brought the car home and it started doing the same thing within 2 days. It is now stuck in our garage. We will wait a few days, hopefully it will start and we will take it back to our dealership and try again. Fortunately, we have an extended warranty on this car by having it BMW certified when we transitioned from a lease to a purchase. We decided to purchase this vehicle because we had not a lick of trouble with it for the first 3 1/2 years. Help? Does anyone have any ideas?
  • Extremely sorry to hear of the problems; I recently bought a 2008 BMW 335i. Here's a list in 5 months:

    1)Bad fuel pump (will cost $2000.00 when out of warranty. Scares me for the 335i, 535i and the 2009 Z4
    2) Two window leaks and faulty operation
    3) Transmission issues
    4) Software issues out the ying-yang. It's been months and they have not fixed it yet. It induces turbo lag; BMW does not care about it because they only look at the future of new cars and not the current customers.
    5) BMWNA does not support in any fashion whatsoever.
    6) Cars are always in the shop and it's extremely crowded.
    7) 8 times in the shop since Sep 2008
    8) Missed time at work due to all the issues

    Now that I have learned my lesson, I would never buy one of these reduced reliability cars; they are extremely poor quality. I do not believe you will make any headway with BMWNA, but I do recommend selling your car when it is feasible. I guarantee you I will do the same. These are just a few problems I noted; there is more....just makes me miss my trusty G35 as I think about it. Good Luck.
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 12,197
    I'd take the above post with about a ten pound grain of salt. Google "stealth marketing" and you'll see what I mean.

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport; 2014 M235i; 2009 Cooper Clubman; 1999 Wrangler; 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2015 X1 xDrive28i Son's: 2009 328i

  • jetzzsjetzzs Posts: 64
    I think taking it with a grain of salt is a good idea too! ;)
  • I have a 2001 325i (130K miles). Oil Separator failed and it's going to cost me $1900. Yes, it was cold outside when it occurred. Apparently, the problem arises more often in cold climate areas.

    BMWNA have gotten back to me and told me that there is nothing they can do for me. It's out of warranty. No goodwill, no sharing of costs,"sorry you're on your own".

    I have been researching oil separator and BMW on the internet and apparently this seems to be a very popular reocurring problem.

    Any sugggestions on what my next step should be? I feel that with all of the news around this issue, and what seems to be poorly manufactured/designed part, that something should be done to have BMW take on some responsibility.

    Looking for help.

  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 12,197
    Is that the dealer price? Try a good independent BMW tech.

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport; 2014 M235i; 2009 Cooper Clubman; 1999 Wrangler; 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2015 X1 xDrive28i Son's: 2009 328i

  • jetzzsjetzzs Posts: 64
    We had the exact same issue with our 2001 330i (100,000 and out of warranty). Our estimate was $1600 (we live in Omaha, Nebraska).

    I called BMWNA and told them this was a common problem that may be the result of an engineering flaw. The rep said, "these things usually stop here", meaning they would not help me. The next day he called back and said they would look into it and I was very surprised. They covered $1100. (see message 4068, in this message I was the mistaken about how much they covered, it was $1100 and not $900).

    We have had several major repairs done with the dealer and all other repairs but oil changes (that was a bad idea=new oil pan twice, but that is another story). We also bought the car as certified used at the dealer. I am not sure if this had anything to do with the outcome.

    I hope this is of some help and best of luck.
  • I think the key for you is they treated you well is that you gave BMW (and its dealership) business other than the sale.

    I am not saying you should always use dealership, but when you do and something outside of warranty occurs. Dealership and Manufacturer tend to take care of you.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 25,965
    not sure why someone should be so disappointed that they have a major repair on a vehicle with 130K miles. Hell, my '93 mazda developed a cracked head at 118k miles, yet I never complained once about it nor has it soured me on mazdas in the least. I put $4k into repairing my volvo before it reached 115k miles (and that was just parts, as I did the work myself), yet I still love volvos and would buy another one in a heartbeat.

    ya know, there are engines and transmissions out there that don't last 130k miles. Everything fails eventually. Doesn't mean they are poorly manufactured/designed (ok, maybe some), and it certainly doesn't mean the manufacturer should be held liable.

    '18 BMW 330xi; '67 Coronet R/T; '14 Town&Country Limited; '18 BMW X2. 47-car history and counting!

  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    I disagree that a cracked head at 118k miles is within what would be considered a "normal" repair. A cracked or leaking head gasket - yes, but not a head.

    I had an 82 Mazda '626 that needed a new head gasket every 55,000 miles or so. After letting the stealer do the first one, I did the second myself (actually let my two sons have at it). Yes, that experienced soured me on Mazdas.

    My '87 BMW with 188,000 miles is still on the original clutch and no tranny work. I'll have to check my records (it was bought used with 125,000 miles on it), but I don't think the head has ever been touched. Heck, even my Dodge Caravan went for 174,000 miles without having any major engine problems. That's what I consider the norm for today's engines, not cracked heads at 118,000 miles.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Actually 80s BMWs were known for cracked heads in the 3 series, so consider yourself fortunate (unless someone put one on before you bought it).

    130K is a lot of miles and may well be beyond any "goodwill" gestures from BMW. I mean, think of all the other parts that might normally fail at 130K on any car in the world. When do we stop our expectations as an owner? 150K? 200K?

    If you were a good customer at one dealership, and if that dealership is a favored one by BMW, and if the dealer has discretionary monies given it by BMW for these goodwill things, well fine.

    But if you are in a situation of having a high mileage car and no particular relationship with a dealer, I don't see where you can expect very much.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 25,965
    I disagree that a cracked head at 118k miles is within what would be considered a "normal" repair.

    I didn't say it was normal. But I don't consider it unacceptable, either. My personal view on cars is that once I pass 80k miles, all bets are off. Its nice when it goes longer without major repairs, but I certainly don't expect it to.

    '18 BMW 330xi; '67 Coronet R/T; '14 Town&Country Limited; '18 BMW X2. 47-car history and counting!

  • Hello all,

    Long story, but I'm thinking of trying to swap a 1996 520i Touring five speed for a 1996 320i Touring automatic (both German specs). My biggest concerns are the overall reliability of the automatic versus manual transmission, and the degraded handling/control in the winter as I drive daily through a pass that can get sketchy in the snow (and we take frequent snowboarding trips to Austria).

    Any thoughts on these two issues or other general comparisons would be great.

  • Appreciate everyone's comments.

    I guess my frustration stems from the many examples that I am hearing/reading regarding BMW and oil separators. I know wear/tear repairs become prominent as you get beyond the 100K mark. I accept this.

    However, the impression that I have is that there is an issue (again from reading other forums, blogs, etc.)with BMW's oil separator, especially in cold weather climates (regardless of mileage).

    In my particular case, my garage door spring broke, which forced me to park my 325 outside while waiting for the door to get repaired. Over the course of 3 days, the oil separator valve(?) froze from condensation build up (this is what I was told). 5 minutes into my drive, engine started to smoke from oil spraying everywhere.

    Repairs include replace oil separator, dipstick, vavle cover gaskets & seals.

    So, if this is a case of "just an old BMW" wearing. OK, I'll keep quiet and move on. However I will say that I bought a BMW because I thought I would get more than 130K out of my investment.

    But if this failure is becoming prevalent in the BMW community (and is getting more awareness because of the advantages of the internet and sharing like this forum), then I am one more data point that needs to be added to the many, potentially more.

    Thanks again!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Well I think you have to look at it as something on a other words, some oil separators will freeze up and break the valve quite prematurely, some will wait to 130K miles and most will never fail.

    Yes, it's a potential problem but it seems to require a certain set of conditions that don't affect most of the cars.

    I think a "goodwill" gesture from BMW would be quite appropriate and I hope you can wrangle one, but I can't say that BMW "owes" anything legally or morally to a customer after 130K miles. Most cars are junked at 175K miles anyway. (average age of a car on the road in America, about 10-11 years).

    So your car is probably at well over half its natural life at this point anyway. Not sure how much of an "investment" you have left in reality.

    Anyway, I'm definitely on your side about the $$$ to fix this. That's no small change. I wouldn't be happy either and I'd certainly ask for something. No harm in asking and/or firing off a few letters....squeaky wheel and all that. Good luck with it.
  • uncletouncleto Posts: 45
    Is it possible that besides the vapor barrier that may cause the wet carpet on the driver side, somebody mentioned about the coil heater that might be another source of it.every now and then im checking my coolant level, the other day i checked and found th expansion tank empty and filled it up. could it be a sign that im leaking thru the coil heater. any imputs will be much appreciated to those experts on 3 series.
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 12,197
    If the heater core is leaking you woud almost certainly have a sweetish smell in the interior.

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport; 2014 M235i; 2009 Cooper Clubman; 1999 Wrangler; 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2015 X1 xDrive28i Son's: 2009 328i

  • uncletouncleto Posts: 45
    So far, the only issue is the condensation of the lower windshiled if the temp. outside is freezing and the carpet is wet, beyond that there is no smell.
  • owner6owner6 Posts: 89
    What is the current mileage.

    I have a 2006 330i with 70,000 (mostly Highway) miles. I am thinking about keeping it for two or three more years for an additional 66K miles. However I am worried about costly or many less expensive repairs. I am retired and want some reliability. as I travel a lot. My car is garaged kept I am the only driver. rear seat never used. Very clean condition. Only repair was rear brake pads.

    Any comments or suggestions?

  • lokkilokki Posts: 1,200
    Well, the first part of the decision process is simple math:

    If you don't keep the car, what will you buy or lease, and what will the increase in your payments be? If they're the same or lower, then first choice is sell. If they're higher, how much higher?

    Take that difference and set it up as a maintenance fund. Let's say the difference is $100 a month, and you'll keep the car 36 months. Thus: $3600.

    Now: Assuming that you would buy/lease another BMW, you'd get free maintenance, and new tires and brakes. Therefore, in considering keeping your current car, you have to factor those expenses into your $3600. At 70,000 miles, you'll likely be needing both within 5,000 miles. Let's say $1500 between them.

    That leaves you $2100 for routine/non-routine maintenance over 3 years. Of course, I'm just making these numbers up, but I'm guessing that your break even point is one significantly major repair over 3 years. The fact that you're travelling a lot may influence the likelyhood of that occuring.

    Now the serious guessing starts. Looking at this board, I don't think it likely that the car will nickel and dime you - it won't break often, but if it does, it won't break cheap. It's not the window switches that fail, it's the regulator or the motor. It's not the radiator hoses, it's the radiator. What's the cost of an extended warranty from BMW? If it's not outrageously expensive, that would solve your "major illness" worries.

    I personally come down on the side of buying a year-old lease-return CPO BMW warrantied out to 7 years or 100K, rather than keeping your current car. You get most of the warranty, and all the major concerns are covered way out into the future. Your current car is easy enough to sell right now; at 120K miles it will take a bigger hit in depreciation.

    Of course, I just pulled all these numbers out of my coffee cup - your math WILL vary. So, I recommend that you take the course I always do - sit down at the kitchen table with a pencil, pad, and calculator and run the numbers. Then ball it up and go with your heart. You may do something stupid that way, but you'll do it with your eyes open and you'll have no regrets later.

    For what it's worth.
  • First question I have is, have you already had REVERSE fail on your transmission? If no, I receomend that you sell teh car, as the 99/2000 and I think 01 323's transmissions fail at 100k or so
  • owner6owner6 Posts: 89
    Thanks, many variables.

    To answer your question, I would buy a new 2009 335I @ about $48,500 plus $2,910 tax total $51,400. If I sell mine for $20K in this depressed market that would mean I would write a check for $31,400. No payments on either car.

    I do have the BMW 100,000 mile extended service plan which covers brakes, rotors oil filters belts and such. The only problem I have had so far was the rear brake pads were replaced several months ago.
  • jimbresjimbres Posts: 2,025
    The mileage on my car is very low - less than 40K - because I've never used it for commuting (relied on public transportation for that until I retired last year) & I rarely drive it during the winter. It's my spring-summer-fall weekend pleasure car. (I've thought about buying snows for it so that I can put more miles on it, but I already have a Honda CR-V.)

    Since the E36 hit the streets in the early 90s, the 3-series has been quite reliable overall. If I owned your car, I'd hang onto it. It's been substantially trouble-free so far, & there's no reason to believe that it will suddenly fall apart now. In time, you will have replace components as they age & wear out, but you're still years away from the point at which the cost of keeping your car roadworthy exceeds the cost of replacing it.
  • wzhao68wzhao68 Posts: 15
    Hi there,
    I own a 2006 330i, it has almost 49000 miles. I'm thinking about buying either the extended warrant or the extended service maintenance plan, or even both. Where should I get some competitive quotes? I did get some quotes from my BMW dealer, but as always, it's pretty expensive, namely about $2800, and no monthly payment plan. Where else should I look?

  • owner6owner6 Posts: 89
    I paid $800 for my extended service (not warranty) 50 to 100K miles. I purchased it about a year ago from my BMW dealer when it hit 49,000 miles. I have 2006 330I.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Everywhere, USAPosts: 126,124
    Prices have gone up...

    MSRP is $1395 now... Doubt they have more than a couple hundred to play with....

    Did you get a good deal? Be sure to come back and share!

    Edmunds Moderator

  • owner6owner6 Posts: 89
    Hi Host,
    do you have any input on my posting #4095 and 4098?
  • kyfdxkyfdx Everywhere, USAPosts: 126,124
    Well.. if you've got $31,400 to drop on a new car, then you can certainly "self-insure" against repairs or maintenance on the one you have...

    No matter what issues you might have over the next 66K miles, it will certainly be cheaper to keep running your current car, than to suffer the depreciation on a new one... Even taking into account the further depreciation on the car you have...

    You like it, you know how it's been treated, and you've had pretty good luck with it.... Obviously, a big repair is not going to bankrupt you.. As long as your dealer is good with loaner cars when yours is in the shop, I'd just soldier along.. Any after-market warranty would be fairly expensive at this time, and I doubt it would cover you past 100K, either way...

    But, I might be the wrong person to ask... We lease our BMWs...

    visiting host

    Did you get a good deal? Be sure to come back and share!

    Edmunds Moderator

  • jimbresjimbres Posts: 2,025
    I'm a big believer in self-insurance. Put that $2800 into an online savings account (GMAC Bank is currently paying 3.25%) & then add a couple of hundred per month to your initial deposit. (Sounds like a lot, but it's less than $7/day.) In a year, you'll have more than $5,000 in your emergency repair fund.
  • lokkilokki Posts: 1,200
    OK... the wife's 98 328i was in the shop yesterday, and they discovered that when she went over a curb (a sad and ugly story I don't want to repeat) a month or so back, the LF control arm was bent..... and additionally the LR shock has started to leak.

    This means replacement struts and shocks since they have to come off anyway to replace the control arm. I'm looking for recommendations on what to have the shop put on as replacements:

    I know of four possibilities (listed below in order of increasing cost guesstimate):

    1. Whatever the shop puts on as OEM replacements, and good enough thank you.
    2. Monroes
    3. Bilsteins
    4. Koni's

    Decision point information:
    The car doesn't have the sport suspension, and my wife is not a performance lowering the springs and putting on racing Koni's is not in the picture.

    Having said that, her car has low miles for a 98 (53K) and the car is in excellent condition, so we plan on keeping it for some years. She likes the car, and between the few miles she drives it and the condition of the car, it's worth the money to do things right. $100 or $200 dollars extra for better parts now isn't that big a deal in the bigger scheme of things, so if it's worth doing, OK. Still there's no point on putting racing quality parts on a car that generally loafs along on the good roads around here.

    So, what's the best balance of quality and price?

    I'd appreciate any opinions and recommendations about these brands and options.


Sign In or Register to comment.