Are BMWs reliable vehicles? If you ask this question to a range of people from inside and outside of the auto repair industry, you will find a wide range of answers.
I answer the question “Are BMWs reliable?” from the position of a long time mechanic, a long time auto repair shop owner, and the husband of a beautiful woman driving a BMW. Just like most makes and models, a car is as reliable as the care you give it.
As a shop owner, I have seen all types of vehicles come through my auto shop. When you are around cars all the time, you begin to see the common problems of each make and model. BMW makes do have their common failures, but I would say that they are equal to or less than most other makes. This goes for European makes, Asian makes, and domestic makes.
In our area here in Layton, Utah, we are one of the only independent auto shops in the area that specialize in BMW repairs and maintenance. We are lucky enough to have our shop foreman, Tyler, be a BMW specialist. He started his career going through the BMW step program and going to work for the only BMW dealer in Utah. Most mechanics I worked with prior to meeting Tyler were nervous to work on BMW, therefore their opinion was typically poor about the quality of them.
If the mechanic you know doesn’t like BMWs, then it likely has tainted your opinion of their reliability. This was me for many years. I didn’t work on them much when I was a mechanic so they were somewhat foreign to me. So if someone asked me the question, “Are BMWs reliable?”, I didn’t really have a good answer. Since working with Tyler this last decade and by having several BMWs in our shop every day; they are great vehicles. My wife is driving a 5 Series with approximately 70k miles on it. It has been very reliable and we plan to drive it to about 200k miles before getting a newer one.
Here are some things to think about when considering, “Are BMWs reliable?”
- BMW Mechanic: A good BMW mechanic is fairly hard to find. Most mechanics work on all makes and models, but it is very rare to find someone that knows your BMW as well as you would prefer. Here in Utah, there is only one BMW dealer. Though you can obviously find a BMW mechanic at the dealer, I am a firm believer in the way an independent auto shop like mine can take care of our clients and our team. An important thing to remember is that all mechanics are not created equal. Be sure to have a BMW mechanic that can advise you on any repairs and maintenance your BMW needs to remain reliable.
- BMW Maintenance: Performing regularly scheduled maintenance on your BMW is the best way to maintain the reliability. Keeping clean fluids and filters in your BMW is an absolute must for the longevity of your vehicle. BMWs often require different fluids and filters than what most shops have in stock. My wife’s vehicle, for instance, requires a very specific European spec synthetic oil and will have problems if the wrong oil is used. Be sure the shop that is maintaining your BMW understands the fluid specs and processes needed before allowing them to maintain your BMW.
- BMW Repairs: The most common repairs I have seen on the BMWs coming through our shop are related to suspension problems or oil consumption. It is crucial to have your BMW mechanic catch these failures before they become a bigger problem.
Oil leaking from the oil stand gasket or excessive oil consumption caused by a failed crank case breather are both very common on most BMW models. This is a fairly easy fix and not something that should keep you from purchasing a BMW. It is crucial to have your vehicle checked regularly by your BMW mechanic to catch these problems before it is too late. Driving too long with an oil leak or with your engine consuming oil will lead to a major failure. If you catch problems early, you will avoid running your vehicle low on oil and having to pay for very expensive engine failures.
As far as the suspension, most BMWs have a good amount of rubber bushings in the suspension components. As those bushings wear, it will cause excessive play in the suspension. This will affect the alignment of the steering and suspension leading to abnormal tire wear. Catching these problems before the tires are worn out or the vehicle becomes unsafe is a crucial part of the reliability of your BMW.