When luxury cars are mentioned, one of the first brands that come to mind is BMW. Over the years, the BMW Group has been producing premium cars that boast an excellent combination of power, sporty appeal, and comfort. However, to some people, owning these vehicles is not all wine and roses. This explains why a lot of people keep asking, ‘are BMWs reliable?

To answer this question, we’d like to say that the reliability of a BMW (or any other high-performance vehicle for that matter) depends mainly on how you take care of it. The best you can do to ensure your ride serves you with minimal issues is by following its manufacturer’s servicing recommendations.

Even though, we cannot downplay the fact that BMWs come with a few nagging issues that cut across most of their models. Here are six of the most common problems you should be aware of before buying one.

We’d like to make it clear though that we collected these issue from around the web and bimmer fourums based on people’s feedback. Motors On Wheels loves BMW and we’ve rarely had these issues ourselves with them.

Cooling System Failure

A cooling system plays a vital role in the running of the car. It prevents the engine from overheating and facilitates optimal performance of the car’s air conditioning system. Most BMWs have their cooling compartment made from brittle plastic materials. (1) This makes them weak and prone to issues in the long run.

To avoid this common problem, be sure to have your car checked after every 80,000 and 120,000 miles covered. Servicing your car at regular intervals keeps the engine at optimal temperatures which is key if you’re to enjoy top performance from your BMW.

Vibrating Steering Wheel

BMWs offer a fantastic driving experience until the steering wheel starts to vibrate. The problem starts as continuous steering wheel vibrations when you press your brake pedals. It’s more common among the BMW 3 series models. (2)

A common cause of a vibrating steering wheel is when the thrush arm brushings aren’t working properly. This part, which forms a fundamental component of the suspension system, tend to fail at around 75,000 miles. If your steering wheel is acting up under braking, take your car to a BMW specialist for diagnosis and fixing.

Door Locks Not Working

It’s not uncommon to see a BMW’s interior door locks jamming and eventually breaking down completely. (3) This is a common electronic issue that compromises both your security and comfort. If you’re having problems opening or closing your doors, it means your door lock actuator is damaged.

To check whether the locks are working properly, move about ten feet away from your car and press the lock/unlock button. You can also use the button on the center console to test the door locks. If one or more doors can’t lock or unlock, then there could be a problem with your door locks and it’s important that you fix it immediately. Remember, if you can’t securely lock your car’s doors, an intruder could easily enter your car and steal your valuables.

Oil Filter Gasket Leaks

The oil filter gasket is another common source of issues for BMWs. (4) It directs the oil filter to the engine unit for proper lubrication of the engine’s moving parts. If you see a small puddle of oil on your driveway or parking lot, there’s a good chance your BMW’s oil filter gasket is leaking.

When this happens, it means less oil is going into the engine which can speed up the wear and tear of the engine.

The good thing about this problem is that it’s relatively easy and inexpensive to repair when identified early. However, if left unattended, you could end up replacing the entire engine!

Battery Safety Terminal (BST)

Most BMWs come equipped with the battery safety terminal (BST) sensor. The company introduced this feature in the early 2000s to minimize the risk of a fire should you get involved in an accident. It helps to disengage the positive cable from the battery in the event of a bad accident. However, the problem with this sensor is that it easily gets activated even with minor impacts.

For example, hitting a curb may trigger the BST to separate the alternator and starter at the battery’s positive terminal. This makes it impossible to start the car. Some car owners have also reported facing an issue with the airbag light staying on without a reason. If you’re having this problem, you need to visit your dealer to clear the error codes using a BMW-specific scanner.

Fuel Pump Issues

Car engines come with two types of fuel pump: the high-pressure pump and the low-pressure pump. The former delivers gasoline into the incineration chamber while the latter rids the tank of gas.

On occasions, you might find that your BMW’s high-pressure fuel pump is performing unusually. The problem arises when the pump fails to push enough gasoline into the combustion chamber. (5) This can cause engine sputtering at high speeds, poor acceleration, or failure by the engine to kick in when started. In such a case, the only effective solution you have is to repair the fuel pump.

So, Are BMWs Reliable?

Absolutely! BMWs are excellent vehicles and you don’t have to shy away from owning one. The problems we explained here are not just unique to them, but they’re known to happen with beamers.

If you’re looking to buy a clean BMW, Motors on Wheels has you covered. We sell thoroughly-inspected used cars that are sure to serve you for many years to come.

We also buy well-maintained BMWs in San Antonio, Houston, and Austin, TX. Have a car you’re looking to sell? Contact us today for an unbeatable offer!



    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzTVoY94di4
    2. https://www.ultimatebimmerservice.com/main-causes-for-steering-wheel-vibration-in-bmw-3-series/
    3. https://sbautowerks.com/why-door-lock-failure-occurs-in-a-bmw/
    4. https://www.ultimatebimmerservice.com/reasons-for-leaks-from-your-bmws-oil-filter-housing-and-gasket/
    5. https://www.bmwblog.com/2010/10/27/ignition-and-recall-timing-a-tale-of-high-pressure-fuel-pump-failures/