BMW X5 Reliability Concerns

chaseboychaseboy Member Posts: 30
I really like the way BMWs look and feel, especially the X5. However, when it comes to reliability, I am hearing very mixed reviews in regards to BMW as a whole. How would you current and former owners rate the overall reliability and long-term quality of your BMW? Are you happy with your purchase? Would you buy another BMW?


  • div2div2 Member Posts: 2,580
    How would you current and former owners rate the overall reliability and long-term quality of your BMW?

    I've owned/wrenched on eight BMWs since 1983, and I currently own two-a 1995 318ti Club Sport and a 2004 X3 2.5.
    At 105,000 miles the maintenance and repair costs for the ti have averaged @$40 per month. Prior to the X3 we had a 130K mile 1997 528i that averaged @$85/month to run.
    If you are considering the second generation X5 I'd advise waiting a year or so to let Munich work any bugs out. If you want a current model I'd say go for it.
    By coincidence, I'm currently looking at a 2001 X5 3.0 to use as my commuter hack...

    Would you buy another BMW?

    See above... ;)
  • quattroporte12quattroporte12 Member Posts: 178
    between a new model x3 and a 2003 x5 4.4 which do you think would handle better?
  • div2div2 Member Posts: 2,580
    I've only driven X5s equipped with the Sport Package, and the last one was a 4.6is back in 2001. In contrast, I just spent a week in a 2006 X3 3.0 with the Sport Package, and I can't say that it handled significantly better than those X5s. I expect that the new X3 3.0si would handle about the same- but it will be quite a bit faster; it may even have enough grunt to keep up with the X5 4.4. I really don't think you'd go wrong with either.
  • quattroporte12quattroporte12 Member Posts: 178
    Thanks for the info. I think both vehicles are great, but i slightly prefer the interior and exteroir styling of the x5. Just worried about snow traction (like to ski) on the 03 model, whereas the new x3's and new x5's (04-06) have the updated x-drive. Do you think there is a big difference between these two x-drive systems?
  • div2div2 Member Posts: 2,580
    Do you think there is a big difference between these two x-drive systems?

    I prefer x-drive due to its ability to shift almost 100% of the engine torque to the axle that has traction. However, the older AWD system fitted to the 01-03 X5 is no slouch. I drove an 01 X5 equipped with lightly studded Pirelli Scorpions in the 2000 Alcan Winter Rally and we had no trouble with traction,though human error was another story altogether... ;) I'll go out on a limb and state that you could probably go anywhere you wanted in an 03 equipped with decent all-season tires. Another option would be to fit it with Nokian's WR tire, which is an all-season tire that also carries the severe winter service rating(the "snowflake on the mountain"). To sum up, the older X5s are great, but x-drive makes them even better.
  • quattroporte12quattroporte12 Member Posts: 178
    Great to know! Thanks! I think x5's great. Its the only SUV that combines handling, luxury, and snow driving so well, (except for MAYBE the cayenne, but its UGLY), and it just HAPPENS to be a BMW! ;) I had a question about the Nokian's WR tire. I would think these would greatly impact the handling, so do you think it would be a better option to buy them with a second set of wheels and keep the sport tires (x5 is equipped with the sport package), or is there a tire out there that will give good snow traction without really messing up the handling? Thanks.
  • div2div2 Member Posts: 2,580
    I would think these would greatly impact the handling, so do you think it would be a better option to buy them with a second set of wheels and keep the sport tires (x5 is equipped with the sport package), or is there a tire out there that will give good snow traction without really messing up the handling?

    I'll ALWAYS select the option of four winter tires on a dedicated set of wheels. If you are going to go that route I'd suggest checking out some of the other winter tires available on Tire Rack- primarily because the WRs are a bit pricey to buy just for winter use.
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    Tire discussions seem pretty popular, so please check out the new ones under the BMW X3 & X5 group heading (you too peter1234 :shades: ).
  • bobalvisbobalvis Member Posts: 4
    Anyone have this warning signal appear? Mine showed up for the first time this weekend. (2002 3.0 with 60,000 miles). Car completely shut down and barely gave me enough time to get off a very busy freeway. Would not crank up immediately but did so after nearly an hour. Had it towed about 100 miles to my shop. Still waiting on explanation. Sure ruined a great Thanksgiving holiday!
    If you have experienced this, what was the solution?
  • oldbeeoldbee Member Posts: 2
    Really dont need a car, and could use one for weekends or a bit otherwise - say 4 to 6 thousand miles a year. There is a 2001 BMW X5 that has done 120,000 miles on the highway and I know to be kept reasonably fine (mostly highway driving, regularly maintained and by BMW only, non-smoker, parked indoor, etc).
    Any ideas about the engine life, or other things I should be careful about?
    Is reliability an issue after these many miles?
    Thoughts from the guys who hold onto their cars for a LONG time!?!?
  • katcopterkatcopter Member Posts: 2
    I currently own a 2001 525it sport wagon with 59,000 miles. I love the car but have always wanted an X5. I currently have my eye on a loaded (sport and premium packages) 2005 X5 at my local dealer with about 61,000 miles-which seem to be awfully high for a 2 year old vehicle. Are there any problems/concerns with respect to this year at this mileage? I generally put about 10,000 miles per year on my wagon.
    Thanks for any help!
  • smacar01smacar01 Member Posts: 1
    I found this recall on the web:
    Recall date: 06-14-2001
    Units potentially affected: 14,300
    NHTSA campaign number: 01V196000

    Description: Over an extended period of time, abrasion particles could deposit on the electrical contacts within the switch, causing a disruption of the electric current through the contacts. If the disruption occurs when the vehicle is stationary with the transmission in the Neutral or Park positions, the transmission will switch automatically into the emergency program, which is displayed in the instrument cluster via a warning lamp and a message, (TRANS. FAIL-SAFE PROG). In this case, the vehicle can be driven in lower gears only with limited engine output. If this problem occurs, the ability to maintain speed in traffic and/or accelerate could be greatly diminished, possibly leading to a crash. Dealers will replace the transmission gear position indicator switch. Owner notification began August 14, 2001. Owners who take their vehicles to an authorized dealer on an agreed upon service date and do not receive the free remedy within a reasonable time should contact BMW at 1-800-831-1117.

    Hope it helps
  • katcopterkatcopter Member Posts: 2
    Thanks Bob! Much appreciated. I had a '94 525i that would do that once in awhile. Rather unnerving. I always had to pull over, shut the car off for 5-10 minutes until the computer reset itself. The odd part was that it only happened when I traveled a certain hill in my area and only when it was very hot outside. Once I figured that out, I just avoided the hill in hot weather and never had the problem again. It would seem to stick in 1st or 2nd gear. I eventually had it fixed.
  • lbwhitelbwhite Member Posts: 1

    I recently received the trans fail safe error and then our 2001 X5 died. The alternator and battery were replaced. The dealer said the error message had nothing to do with the alt/battery and power failure.

    However, when I picked it up, the front monitor/display is blank. It occassionally blinks but nothing displays. The radio turns off after a few minutes. The dealer says that the nav system controls all the displays and that it needs replacing and then the monitor will need replacing. I don't have high regards to the service consultant as he originally told us when we picked it up the first time that the display would show back up the next day. We were stuck in traffic and didn't have time to argue but knew that it was bogus.

    Any one have any advice? Does the nav system control the display? The in phone unit still works. I'm not wanting to spend $3900 to replace the nav and the display if I don't need to.

  • mtemp1mtemp1 Member Posts: 1
    I have the same exact problem...were you able to fix it. Please let me know (you can email me at [email protected]) Thanks.
  • lion2000lion2000 Member Posts: 22
    No complain about the X5 reliability and its prestige. However, if you can put up with the inconvenience that had caused me, it is worthy! I have a 2001 X5 4.4 and am still driving it (101K miles).

    * The first year I took the car back to the dealer 6 times. 3 times for door latch cable, 1 for burn out head light, 1 for transmission position sensor, 1 for electronics problem (disarm the car can cause hazard light to blink and can easily turn it off).
    * Fan blower speed control reostat burn out at 55K miles, dealer took care of for free.
    * Turn signal light burn out within warrenty.
    * Mass flow sensor broke at 65K miles. $$$ to replace.
    * Drive power shaft was broken due to bad quality material at 75K miles.
    * 70K miles, engine block oil gasket was leaking. $$$ to replace.
    * Radiator water hose erupted at 96K miles. Replacement hose had better built.

    It is costly to maintain. Oil service and radiator flush costs 325. 100K service is 1500. When you change break pad, all four rotors plus sensors need to be replaced at the same time, 1000.

    I have been looking at the reviews of other European SUVs, all seem to have reliability issue. I don't want to turn to the Japanese (had an Acura legend for 8 years never had problem). I may not have a choice here. Any recommendation? Any experience with newer X5 models? Much appreciated!!

  • bmlexusbmlexus Member Posts: 755
    No complain about the X5 reliability and its prestige. However, if you can put up with the inconvenience that had caused me, it is worthy! I have a 2001 X5 4.4 and am still driving it (101K miles).</i

    Oh my oh my so many things even don't go wrong in a corolla. :sick: :surprise:

    Thats the main reason why i like bmw a lot but get very tense after reading the troubles :mad:
  • postermikepostermike Member Posts: 28
    I'd like to hear from any 2007 or 2008 owners out there about any issues you've had with your X5. I'm getting ready to finalize negotiations with Chrysler on my '08 Commander to buy me out through lemon law.

    I've settled on the X5 and the Land Rover LR3. (Please, no replies about how different the vehicles are. My only concerns are luxury and how much I like the vehicle as I live in the city and don't off-road or tow.) I had an '06 X5 that I loved and never had an issue with but, since the LR3 now has an electric steering wheel adjustment, I'm torn between which one I like better. I get a good deal from BMW because of my relationship with them but one of my best friends runs the LR store just a mile from my office and I know I can get a good deal from him too and if I do have problems, it would be closer than the BMW store, which is about 5 miles away.

    I know everything about both vehicles as far as equipment, drive, capabilities, etc, however I haven't heard much about problems with the '08. I'm a 24 month leaser so I'm not really so worried about problems with 2 or 3 year old vehicles, just wondering if anyone out there has had initial problems, like I've had with my Commander since day one.

  • undecidedqxundecidedqx Member Posts: 3
    I just have to say I love my X5. I bought a brand new '08 in March and I did have one problem with the wiring harness which was immediately repaired. Other than that, it's been great. It's fast, gets great gas mileage for an SUV, is roomy, drives like a dream and has every bell and whistle. I did get it loaded. I love it to pieces and could not be more satisfied.

    Good luck to you.
  • jencarnacionjencarnacion Member Posts: 1
    smacar01 Thanks for this information. I seems my X5 4.4 2003 has exactly this problem, it has same symtoms, often when I start it it just doesn't start, after trying again keeping the key in the ignition position it's start but showing this message TRANS. FAIL-SAFE PROG, when this message is shown I notice that the car do not set the transmission in Parking light position. Always when happend this what I do is turn off the car and start it again until it starting normally without showing this message and setting the transmission in the Parking position correctly. After that a drive normally but when I stop and put the transmission in Parking position the message comes again and I have to again turn it off and start it again with same procedure. What I need is some detail advice of what my dealer should do so I can save some money, could you help me? Thanks in advance
  • bmwx5er1bmwx5er1 Member Posts: 1
    my 2001 X5 4.4 is now started to exhibit these symptons also. I foun d the recall email from 6/14/2001, I called the BMW hotline at 1800-831-1117 they said my VIn number was not involved in this recall. I purchased this vehicvle in April 2003. Does anyone know if the BMW hotline is given my a true story or is it they just dont want to cover the reapir. the origila recall # was 01V196000. Has anyone had similar issue and had to pay for the repairs . what exackly is the cost? Thanks in adviance... BMWX5er1......
  • caltagbobcaltagbob Member Posts: 2
    I am a long time BMW owner and I have a 2009 X5 which is my second one.. The computer has malfunctioned twice while driving on the highway. The car becomes barely drivable and is clearly unsafe. The computer has been replaced once and the car is back at the dealer for the same problem. I bought the car to take to the mountains. I have no confidence that I can do that with this car. When the computer goes out the car is useless and unsafe
  • lion2000lion2000 Member Posts: 22
    Thanks for the feedback. I have seen similar comments about the new X5s on the Xpost site, mostly electronics. It is sad that you buy a new X5 and can't trust it to go longer distance, it defeats the purpose.

    I had a conversation with a BMW employee today, privately. His comment was that the X5 electronics is more complicated than the earlier models, still is a main problem. As far as I can remember, it has always been a problem since my 325i days. I look at as a trade off for performance!!

    To follow up my last posting since Mar '08. I had
    window regulator,
    water pump/thermostat,
    two front axle assembly (CV joints),
    instrument cluster,
    and DSC module replaced. VERY $$$$$!!!

    It is time to say good bye to my beloved and troubling X5! Any suggestion on a SUV that is reliable and have good handling/performance? I am not keen on features, as it always brings trouble along. Thanks for reading and your feedback.
  • 00boxsters00boxsters Member Posts: 202
    How many miles on your vehicle now? How old is it now? Sounds well used.
  • caltagbobcaltagbob Member Posts: 2
    My BMW X5 is a 2009 model with less than 9,000 miles. For a BMW I doubt that is "well used". Now the navigation malfunctions!
  • 00boxsters00boxsters Member Posts: 202
    Hey Bob,

    I was replying to lion2000 who I think has over 100000miles on his previous model X BMW. Check above.

    Sorry but You may have gotten a lemon Bob.
  • pp2009pppp2009pp Member Posts: 228
    I was at the dealership for my brand new X3 which has a myriad of strange behaviors. The guy I sat next to was in for what he said was his 2 year old X5. He said he had paid for it outright, cash for $62K and change. He said he brought it in, on average, once every month but even with whatever it had wrong with it, it probably didn't meet the fairly tough lemon laws standards which had to do with safety issues not with dealing with your brand new, premium car.

    :lemon: :lemon: :lemon: :lemon: :lemon:

    This is anecdotal. Your mileage may vary. He was livid. That makes two of us.

    All I can say is: Caveat BMW. NEVER AGAIN.
  • anon3anon3 Member Posts: 147
    "All I can say is: Caveat BMW. NEVER AGAIN."

    For every individual that trashes the entire brand because they had a problem with one particular vehicle, you could hear plenty of positives stories. For example, I've had six X5's and have had zero trouble with any of them (with the possible exception of the 2001 X5 4.4i, which was the first model year of the first BMW SUV ever.) Even that first model only required one warranty service visit for the entire time that I drove it. None of my other X5s ever went back to the dealer for anything other than scheduled maintenance. Of the 15 BMWs that I've owned over the years, only one had a significant problem (2002 745i) and that problem was well documented and resolved under warranty.

    I have significant experience (multiple vehicles, over 200 hours of track time, cross-country rallies, visits to factories on two continents, etc) with the brand and I have complete confidence in BMW's reliability.

    Then I look at the "Learn More" ad to the right as I'm typing this response and see that the 2009 X5 has an Edmund's owner satisfaction rating of 9.1 out 10. Apparently, the major issue that you're having isn't common.
  • pp2009pppp2009pp Member Posts: 228
    You must be joking. The Edmunds owner satisfaction isn't even remotely scientific. It is a compilation of the views of some of the people who may or may not own the car and who have decided they wanted to spend some time sharing their views.

    You have owned how many X5s? Do you drive them all for under 18 months...are you a dealer? How in the world do you get so many cars in such a short space of time?

    What were you doing at the factories?

    There is automobile experiences from those who are in the business and there is automotive experiences from the real world. Why don't you try out the 2009 X3?
  • pp2009pppp2009pp Member Posts: 228
    I did mean to say that there are automotive experiences. The thing is, one bad egg will spoil the experience for the entire dozen.
  • tidestertidester Member Posts: 10,059
    isn't even remotely scientific.

    Perhaps not but I've only been hearing one dissenting voice. That one is more scientific? :P

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • pp2009pppp2009pp Member Posts: 228
    None of it is scientific, remotely or otherwise. It is just internet commentary from anonymous sources so people have to take it with a pound of salt.

  • jayriderjayrider Member Posts: 3,602
    I used to think that consumer reports reliability info was relevant. It isn't because they send out surveys to subscribers who relate their car info through a computer form. Who takes the time to fill it out and mail it. Some are honest and objective. Some hate their car and some are on a mission to extoll the brand they drive. My guess is that the last two groups make up the majority of the responders. If your car is basically trouble free and you could care less about surveys you are part of the vast silent majority. The criteria for unrecommended vehicles is a problem ratio of 3% or more. Anything less than 3% is good to excellent. Pretty good odds for almost anything you could buy. The ratings depend on who is taking the time to fill out the survey's -- not just how the car is actually doing. Chevy Uplander anyone?
  • paulepaule Member Posts: 382
    Consumer Reports is a joke. I stopped paying any attention to them back in '96 when they rated the '95 Ford Probe and the Mazda 626 (or whatever the version was). Anyway, they were the EXACT same car. CR rated the Ford as garbage and the Mazda as above average. That pretty much told me right there what to think about CR reviews.
    By the way, I have never owner a Ford and don't particulary care for them. I just remember at the time what CR reported.
  • pp2009pppp2009pp Member Posts: 228
    Someone said that CR recommended the Pinto and the Vega.
  • jayriderjayrider Member Posts: 3,602
    My 75 VW Rabbit won motor trends car of the year.
  • pp2009pppp2009pp Member Posts: 228
    I thought the old Rabbits were nice cars. They were a bit tinny but they were easy to fix and durable from what I remember.

    They could have had a better name though.
  • jayriderjayrider Member Posts: 3,602
    Mine was school bus yellow with brown vinyl interior. It was a blast to drive -- didn't appreciate back then -- would probably been happier in a malibu. Spent a lot of time in the dealer customer lounge.
  • cartrouble13cartrouble13 Member Posts: 3
    Anyone have advice on this:
    While driving on highway got "transfailsafe", 4x4 light, brake and ABS lights came on. When stopped car it stalled and when tried to start was "dead" - starter did not turn. Also made some chirping electronic sounds about one second apart.
    Also noticed once between trying to restart that the gauges were in abnormal position speedometer read ~20mph and tachy a little over 1000rpm even though car was stopped.
    Few weeks ago similar problem but after 30-45 min the car restarted with no errors and when had it checked said found nothing wrong.
    Alternator was replaced one year ago - reported tested now ok. Battery tested ok.
    If this is an ABS computer or sensor problem would the starter not crank or lose electric power?
    Thanks for any ideas.
  • dacooljamesdacooljames Member Posts: 1
    i have a 2001 bmw x5 4.4.just a few hours ago i realized some funny noise as i was driving.i pulled over and realized that it was coming from around the fan area.since it was dark i jumped back in the car and continued driving.almost instantly the the battery indicator came on and the steering wheel became completely hard. the car starts and runs well but its almost impossible to steer it. any advise??
  • steubenvillesteubenville Member Posts: 2
    I have a 2001 bmw x5 4.4. I had the battery go dead on me and then I had a jump after that the car started fine, but i still purchased a new battery. a month later the car would not start and they replaced the battery, 3 weeks later it does not start and always after it sits overnight. I had the charging system checked and the starter and all the power system. 3weeks later it would not start for the next two days needing a jump. my license plate bulb also burned out but i replaced the bulb and it still would not work. Do you all think I have short draining the battery overnight, because thats when it happens! I am at wits end on this mystery.
  • steubenvillesteubenville Member Posts: 2
    I have a BMW X-5 2001 4.4 and The self level inactive warning message came on and it stayed on. I talked with the dealer and hesaid if its level it is probably just a sensor, but he gave me no remedy! Did anyone else have this warning message come on? What did you do?

  • t1l0ut1l0u Member Posts: 1
    Hello, i have about the same problem on my 2004 X5 4.4i. Did you find the root cause?

    /Thank you
  • cartrouble13cartrouble13 Member Posts: 3
    Yes! The problem was the regulator in the alternator. The problem was intermittent so when I had the car checked they said the alternator was fine. The problem kept recurring every few weeks. Finally a new mechanic said it had to be the alternator (which I had replaced less than a year before). I had the company that supplied the alternator test it - they had it on the bench running at max output for almost 2 days before the problem showed up. Since it has been replaced about 8 months ago there has been no recurrence. Hope this helps.
  • ih8bmwih8bmw Member Posts: 1
    60000 dollar garbage! My first ever X5, V8 still has 12000 MLS on it since purchased in 2008. Why? Because it spends more time at BMW service than I can get my hands on it!!!
    Do yourself a favor and research before buying it!!! :sick:
  • roadburnerroadburner Member Posts: 16,330
    Will this be another one hit wonder???

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport; 2020 C43; 2009 Cooper Clubman; 1999 Wrangler; 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2015 X1 xDrive28i Son's: 2009 328i; 2018 330i xDrive

  • 2005_x5_442005_x5_44 Member Posts: 4
    I had the trans failsafe message appear before. Shutdown and restart cleared it. That was over a year ago. Recently it started doing it more frequently. I read a thread about the alternator/regulator causing a similar problem so I hooked up a scan guage to the OBD port that displays voltage. It read 10.9-11.4 volts while driving. That seemed low. I hooked a regular volt meter to the battery post under hood, it read 13.5 volts with engine running and 12 with engine off. That seemed right. I rechecked the guage connected to the OBD again and it now read 13.4 volts with engine running. That is a definate inconsistency which needs further investigation. Also, I've had an intermittent problem with trans initiating a shift or a disengage then re-engage( can't determine which because it doesn't complete a shift and it happens very quickly, like a hiccup). This happens around 30-40 mph when the automatic trans is in 5th gear. The last time the trans failsafe message appeared, it would not restart. It acted like a dead battery. A few minutes later it started, but the clock lost its program. The service engine light came on, but the car ran great and no more transmission hiccup. I checked code, it was P1890 trans control. I think the symtoms are related. A year ago, dealer had told me the hiccup problem was the trans valve body. They said $5500. I don't believe them. I will post results after looking into regulator and connections.
  • chansen194chansen194 Member Posts: 1
    Hi I am having similar problems with my 04 X5 its going to the dealer on tues. Did you get your issue solved?
  • 2005_x5_442005_x5_44 Member Posts: 4
  • cartrouble13cartrouble13 Member Posts: 3
    Yes - no recurrence in over a year since the alternator was changed
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