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Thread: Is it really true about BMW reliability?

  1. #1
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    Is it really true about BMW reliability?

    I mean like, are the horror stories true about BMW's being the most expensive cars to maintain, and that they break down a lot? I hope not, honestly I'm look to buy a BMW soon, and if the constant reminder of "i hope nothing breaks" is looming, then what's the point? Or is it just fanboy BS, and the truth being, if one takes care of a BMW, the BMW will take care of you?
    Last edited by 5abiBimmer; 08-08-2005 at 08:58 PM.
    BMW- The Ultimate Driving Machine

  2. #2
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    the e30 is solid, very ver solid. even with old and worn items its solid. the m20 never dies. i beat the hell out of mine for a long time and it ran fine. its a loud car but its a gorgeous drive. the e36 just requires general maintenance to keep it in top form. get the cooling gremlins fixed and youre set. there are other inconveniences but the experience in the bimmer well justifies any hardship. i love bimmers. buy your son one, id say start with an e30 because the e36 powerplants are all so buttery and they really gain speed without the driver noicing.

  3. #3
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    Def is offline Lead Disagreement Eng PE
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    They're not that bad, and the parts tend to be a tad cheaper than from Japanese dealerships. If you mod them then it gets really expensive with a quickness.

    I have noticed that BMWs tend to have more electrical problems than anything else, which gets more expensive as you get an older and older car. My mom's E39 has had two major repairs(over $1k each), and they were both electrical.


    So stuff might happen, but I wouldn't let it ruin your enjoyment of the cars. Stuff happens in Japanese cars too...

  4. #4
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    It depends on what you get. Some can be very expensive. Others can be fairly inexpensive to maintain. Suprisingly enough I've found my E36 to be almost 30% less expensive to maintain than a VR6 or Turbo VW.
    "Way-dull" Racing #74

  5. #5
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    Engines and trannies tend to be solid.

    Electrical gremlins and sometimes suspension stuff are most of the nuisance things I've heard of.

    I've had my car 3 years. Change the filters, fluids and sparkplugs. That's it so far.

  6. #6
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    i've had my e36 for a year... non regular maintenance items include brake light switch going out (fixed), surnoof motor making weird noises (havent fixed, doesnt bother me enough yet), driver door window having erratic behaviour on occasion (havent fixed, not too common), SRS light came on (havent fixed, waiting for tool)

    Point being .. the engine's last ... electrical problems are common and expensive ... learn to Do It Yourself or have a fat wallet :-)
    E90 DIY - E46 DIY - E36 DIY - E60 DIY - E30 DIY - E39 DIY - E34 DIY
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  7. #7
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    But you know - compared to what? Do BMWs really have more electrical problems on average than say MBs or Audis? Seems like no matter what car forum I go into, there is a mix of people crying over their endless break-downs and at the same time other people proudly talking about how they have 140k miles and going strong ....
    Lee

  8. #8
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    my civic, that i owned for 4 years, never had a non regular-maintenance problem
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  9. #9
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    re

    its all bull... bmws are solid built and reliable. you just need to do more scheduled maintenence than a toyota,
    basically its just extra tlc man.

    follow your maintenence procedures and you wil be in the green..
    use only 91 octane (or better), use mobile 1 or bmw oil, and change your filter and NEVER skimp on parts, always buy the best or better. this will solve 99% of problems before they begin.

  10. #10
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    re

    xoc, obviously if the car has been abused, what do you think its reliablitiy will be????

    with a used car its always a gamble, you never know how crappily it got taken care of.

  11. #11
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    Like everyone says depends on the car, some parts are more expensive for example for the price of 1 shock on my e30 I can buy a set of 4 for my jeep if I add some change.

    My car likes to break every couple thousand miles or so. Usually it has something to do with the electrical system or fuel delivery. The transmissions and engines seem to be really solid, My clutch is still original and the engine is going strong ate a quarter million miles.

    In any case there fun cars to drive.
    Hello, this is on-star how may I help you?

    If it has boobs or wheels it is bound to give you trouble sometime.

  12. #12
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    My 2 cents:

    - I think part of why they have a reputation for being expensive to maintain is that a vast majority of people who own them have the work done, and with Bimmers you're talking dealer or the few indie shops. Whereas just about any place can fix a Honda.

    -Parts can be more expensive, but not always. I got brand new OEM rotors for $50 a piece, which I don't think is too bad. I've noticed that the common parts tend to be the cheapest at the dealer.

    -Some generations had their own specific issues, for example E36 cooling systems aren't the greatest. But there are an abundance of upgrade parts out there.

    -If you're planning on doing your own work, but have never worked on a car, the newer BMWs may not be the best choice to teach yourself on. Get an older one to learn on, or an old V8 car.

    -If you're fairly experienced at working on cars, they're not too bad. I personally find my 328 easier than a Honda.

    - Are BMWs as worry free as a Honda? No. BMW's ask a certain level of dedication to maintainance. Would I rather have a Honda than my 328? NO! The Bimmer blows it away in the handling and power.

    If you don't know the difference between oversteer and understeer, the Bimmers talents will probably be lost on you. If you're the kind of person that plots your apex even in a parking garage, then the extra care is totally worth it.
    Last edited by AJGee; 08-09-2005 at 09:39 PM.

  13. #13
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    Another thing I must add ..

    My BMW has a lot more electronics that CAN fail in comparison to the civic :-)
    E90 DIY - E46 DIY - E36 DIY - E60 DIY - E30 DIY - E39 DIY - E34 DIY
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  14. #14
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    My experience is that BMWs are more prone (but not a whole lot more) to failure than a typical GM vehicle, less prone than other German makes, much more prone than the big two Japanese makes and more expensive to fix when something does go wrong (for example $1000 for a u-joint!). They are, generally, more rewarding to work on. And they are MUCH more rewarding to drive!

    Your results may vary, except on the rewarding to drive part!

    Good luck!

    Bob Martin

  15. #15
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    if you get awell maintained version of an older model problems are less.
    If your not leading your following.

  16. #16
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    Proper maintenance is key. Dont neglect the car and dont wait till there is a problem before you do something. My first bimmer was an E30 3 series and I believe those to be over-engineered for the time. I never had any major issues with it, just maintained it and it still ran great when I went to sell it after 280,000 miles. My E36 M3 is great and I have had no problems. Its all about not neglecting the car. This applys to any, however I tend to believe that German cars are better than Japanese, of course I am biased.
    Calling a BMW a mode of transportation is like calling sex "reproduction" . Nuff said.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by XOC
    But you know - compared to what? Do BMWs really have more electrical problems on average than say MBs or Audis?
    I have a '98 mercedes and it's hell. So full of problems, electrical, turbo, suspension, etc. Compared, my '95 E36 is total heaven.
    '95 E36 318tdS:
    Bilstein Sport shocks; x-brace; H&R front sway bar; camber shims; M3 offset LCABs; Meyle HD LCAs; Z3 RSM reinforcement plates; ZHP shift knob.


  18. #18
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    From what I have seen, BMW"s are extremeley reliable. And most people will overstate the price of what the repair actually costs, just because it is a big german car and they see $$$ going off.

    Case in point, we recentley bought a 1993 750il, for 5000 dollars. When we bought it, eveything worked, but the car wouldn't move. Since we had a prior E32, we knew it was probably the fuel pump, as these are prone to fail occasionally. The guy we bought it from said he has been quoted 6000 dollars to repair the vehicle. We did it ourselves for 1000(two pumps) and 1/2 an hour of work.

    As for longevity, our 89 735il just turned over 220,000 miles. The abuse this car takes, and the fact that it still performs flawlessly, is a testament to it's engineering.

    Our newer bimmers, still perform flawlessly, the only realy problem we have had on them is a replacement water pump and a cam sensor on our 740il.

    If you buy one within warranty, you have absoluteley nothing to worry about, as BMW will take car of the odd problem that may crop up. And if you do buy one out of warranty, just get used to working on your own cars, chances are everything will be fine, but if you do fix it yourself, you will save a ton of money.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rakshas
    if you do buy one out of warranty, just get used to working on your own cars, chances are everything will be fine, but if you do fix it yourself, you will save a ton of money.
    I would really like to get into that, but I have a lot to learn about mechanics. Is there some site to start on? Anything would help, esp the basics. Thanks.
    '95 E36 318tdS:
    Bilstein Sport shocks; x-brace; H&R front sway bar; camber shims; M3 offset LCABs; Meyle HD LCAs; Z3 RSM reinforcement plates; ZHP shift knob.


  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by metale
    I would really like to get into that, but I have a lot to learn about mechanics. Is there some site to start on? Anything would help, esp the basics. Thanks.
    I'm not sure about your part of the world, but what I did was join the local BMW Car Club chapter and asking questions. I started attending various tech sessions and learned the basic procedures on other cars as well as my own.

    A service manual (Bentley) is another good source. Other than those two items, I've found a ton of knowledge here and just by searching the Internet.
    '95 325iS - auto to manual swap done!

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by shadowpuck
    I'm not sure about your part of the world, but what I did was join the local BMW Car Club chapter and asking questions.
    Portugal. We don't get that aroud here. In fact, we don't get anything around here

    I'll try doing more searches on the internet. I'll also try to get some decent tools and stuff.
    '95 E36 318tdS:
    Bilstein Sport shocks; x-brace; H&R front sway bar; camber shims; M3 offset LCABs; Meyle HD LCAs; Z3 RSM reinforcement plates; ZHP shift knob.


  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by XOC
    But you know - compared to what? Do BMWs really have more electrical problems on average than say MBs or Audis?
    Having had a 2000 Audi A4 1.8T Quattro and a 1999 BMW M3, I can honestly say the A4 was 10x better maintenance wise (my BMW is a electrical nightmare). Not saying Audis are more reliable, but it all depends on the specific car you buy. Not all 1999 BMW M3s were created equal and the same goes for Audi A4s. It really is luck getting a reliable car. Just make sure you have the car fully checked before you buy it. Before I bought the Audi, I had it fully checked and it came back perfect. The BMW never got checked, and I regret ever buying this specific car as it is one problem after another. Moral of the story is to have a car checked before you buy; this will most likely allow you to get a reliable car.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by AJGee
    My 2 cents:

    - Are BMWs as worry free as a Honda? No. BMW's ask a certain level of dedication to maintainance. Would I rather have a Honda than my 328? NO! The Bimmer blows it away in the handling and power.

    If you don't know the difference between oversteer and understeer, the Bimmers talents will probably be lost on you. If you're the kind of person that plots your apex even in a parking garage, then the extra care is totally worth it.
    That's a good way to put it - BMW's seem to expect a certain amount of "attention." I've just decided that when something starts going flakey on my car I just haven't been paying it enough attention lately....

    I'm glad to see I'm not the only one plotting late apexes leaving the parking structure on the way home from work.....
    '95 325iS - auto to manual swap done!

  24. #24
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    I've had about 50 cars and I'm currently on my third BMW (in a row). I haven't had any car break down since I stopped buying British.

    As others have stated - regular maintenance and generally looking after my cars means I don't have problems I can't correct myself. Things which have gone awry have been things which I would expect to go awry with any car.

    Therefore IME, BMWs are not horrendously expensive to own, as some people claim. ymmv.

  25. #25
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    BTW - I read somewhere that one reason BMW reports more problems is that BMW owners tend to be more 'picky' than some other owners.... I know I hear every noise in my car and expect it to be perfect all the time...

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