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      06-12-2019, 09:45 AM   #1
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Looking for 1st BMW and reseaching.

Hello,

I am in the market for a new car I am a former MB driver ('97 E320, '98 E320, '10 ML350) and over the weekend I saw several BMWs that I am looking at getting. I wanted to do some research before I narrow my search.
I wanted to know what are the common problems the car is known to have that should be of concern. I am a DIYer and work on my cars (oil change, brakes, shocks...etc) but hear that this car starts to have major issues turbo and timing chain issue at 120K?

Car 1:
2013 BMW 535i xDrive the car is beautiful and loaded (climate/Premium/Technology) package with 88K. The Carfax looks clean 2 years lease 2 years owned by 1 owner and all service was done at the dealership.

Car2:
2012 BMW X3 28iX also fully loaded and has 61K miles on it. Also, CarFax looks good all work done at the dealership.

Can you share your experience on what common problems to consider?

Cheers,
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      06-12-2019, 10:27 AM   #2
Wgosma
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My guess is the 5-Series car is going to be a nicer ride than the X3; depends on what you're looking for however.

I've been driving BMW's for 15+ years; I do a lot of my own work on my cars. Every Bimmer I've owned was purchased used/from private seller. I drove the older E39 5-Series cars (1998, 2000 model year) for over 10 years, I owned 3 of them (not at same time) in total. All were manual transmission w/normally aspirated I-6 motors. Drove two of them to over 200K miles. BMW inline 6 motors, almost every model are near bullet-proof, I never encountered any motor issues, aside from leaking valve cover and oil filter housing gaskets, the older cars also had some cooling system issues due partly to the plastic parts used in the system. Overall solid build quality, never any major component failures, very little 'broke' on the car, mostly small stuff like door handle and the like.

Regards that X3; I bought a 2012 X3 2.8i from original owner a year a ago, nice car. I avoided the 4 cylinder turbo motor - 2011 to 2012 model years the X3's were fitted with either normally aspirated or turbo (3.5L) inline 6; after that BMW dropped the n/a I-6 and went to turbo 4 - this engine (N20/N26) is used in the X3 and many of the sedans including the popular 3-Series. The early engines (pre 2015) exhibited issues with timing chain stretching and failure of the plastic chain guides; some of the failures did major damage to the motor necessitating full replacement. BMW did not do recall, they redesigned the chain guides and added extended warranty only. Failures were more common in the X3 compared to the sedans, heavier vehicle. There are attorneys gathering info regards potential class action lawsuit on this issue. Google BMW N20 timing chain failure for info. I'd stay way from any BMW 4 banger turbo that was built prior to 2015.

You can verify if that X3 you're looking at has the N52 I-6 motor (like my car) by using VIN decoder here https://decoder.bvzine.com/ or put last 7 of VIN into this site: https://www.realoem.com/bmw/enUS/select.

In my overall experience as long as one is diligent and attends to preventative maintenance these cars are solid/manageable and won't break your wallet. I DIY, and if you are so inclined you'll save money on repairs.

Whatever BMW is in your sights, get a mechanic to do a pre-purchase inspection from a qualified independent BMW/Euro car mechanic - that $150 spent is worth it's weight in gold when it comes to buying used.

Good luck/Bill

Last edited by Wgosma; 06-12-2019 at 10:58 AM..
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      06-12-2019, 11:31 AM   #3
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Thanks for the information here is the X3 spec. I got from the VIN#. considering that it's not the N20 engine should I be concerned on the N52T timing chain issue since the built year is 2011? The 535i has the N55 engine so I assume the timing chain issue is not present in that one. I plan to do my maintenance this is the only reason I am looking at BMW and/or MB the German workmanship is something I appreciate.

Model X3 xDrive28i
E-Code F25
Chassis Sports Activity Vehicle
Engine N52B30O2
Steering left
Region USA

And the dealership info -->

Body Style: AWD 4dr
Model Code: 12XD
Engine: 3.0L Straight 6 Cylinder Engine
Drive Type: AWD
Transmission: 8-Speed A/T
Ext. Color: Mineral Silver Metallic
Int. Color: Black Nevada Leather
Mileage: 60,925
VIN #: 5UXWX5C53CL720968



Quote:
Originally Posted by Wgosma View Post
My guess is the 5-Series car is going to be a nicer ride than the X3; depends on what you're looking for however.

I've been driving BMW's for 15+ years; I do a lot of my own work on my cars. Every Bimmer I've owned was purchased used/from private seller. I drove the older E39 5-Series cars (1998, 2000 model year) for over 10 years, I owned 3 of them (not at same time) in total. All were manual transmission w/normally aspirated I-6 motors. Drove two of them to over 200K miles. BMW inline 6 motors, almost every model are near bullet-proof, I never encountered any motor issues, aside from leaking valve cover and oil filter housing gaskets, the older cars also had some cooling system issues due partly to the plastic parts used in the system. Overall solid build quality, never any major component failures, very little 'broke' on the car, mostly small stuff like door handle and the like.

Regards that X3; I bought a 2012 X3 2.8i from original owner a year a ago, nice car. I avoided the 4 cylinder turbo motor - 2011 to 2012 model years the X3's were fitted with either normally aspirated or turbo (3.5L) inline 6; after that BMW dropped the n/a I-6 and went to turbo 4 - this engine (N20/N26) is used in the X3 and many of the sedans including the popular 3-Series. The early engines (pre 2015) exhibited issues with timing chain stretching and failure of the plastic chain guides; some of the failures did major damage to the motor necessitating full replacement. BMW did not do recall, they redesigned the chain guides and added extended warranty only. Failures were more common in the X3 compared to the sedans, heavier vehicle. There are attorneys gathering info regards potential class action lawsuit on this issue. Google BMW N20 timing chain failure for info. I'd stay way from any BMW 4 banger turbo that was built prior to 2015.

You can verify if that X3 you're looking at has the N52 I-6 motor (like my car) by using VIN decoder here https://decoder.bvzine.com/ or put last 7 of VIN into this site: https://www.realoem.com/bmw/enUS/select.

In my overall experience as long as one is diligent and attends to preventative maintenance these cars are solid/manageable and won't break your wallet. I DIY, and if you are so inclined you'll save money on repairs.

Whatever BMW is in your sights, get a mechanic to do a pre-purchase inspection from a qualified independent BMW/Euro car mechanic - that $150 spent is worth it's weight in gold when it comes to buying used.

Good luck/Bill
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      06-12-2019, 11:38 AM   #4
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I've never heard of any significant issues/failures regards timing chains on the inline 6 BMW engines. They seem to have had on/off issues over the years with this component in V-8 and that recent N20 4 banger motor.

N52 was in production for many many years and is solid; I think N55 is same arena.

N52 runs along nicely, port injection not direct injection like N55...so no high pressure fuel pump, spark plugs and coil packs last bit longer. No walnut blasting the intake valves at higher mileage. Of course if you want to go fast, then go turbo. 😉

I think that X3 you're eyeing has sport seats; I have them and they are better than the rather 'flat' regular seats.
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      06-12-2019, 11:57 AM   #5
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Thanks, Bill I appreciated your feedback I don't care much for speed I got a heavy foot and trying to avoid any more tickets. I am looking for luxury, tech, and reliability my last car E320 I had for 14 years and traded it in at 233K.

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      06-12-2019, 02:33 PM   #6
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If you are looking for luxury, then you will be happier with the 535...nicer leather, nicer seats, smoother ride than the X3 28i.


Unless you need the larger/different sized cargo space the X3 provides, and both options are x-drive, I would guess you are better off with the 535.
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      06-12-2019, 05:42 PM   #7
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I owned a 2010 535i wagon (N54 engine) and currently own a 2016 X3 35i (N55 engine). I prefer the higher seating position in the X3 over the 5 series. Both my wife and I find the X3 to be just as comfortable on long trips as my E61 535i wagon, even though my X3 has run flat tires and the 535i had conventional tires.

I had Nevada leather seats in the 535i and Dakota leather seats in the X3. The leather quality was comparable in my opinion. You might find a 5 series with higher grade Merino leather and multi-contour seats, which should be more comfortable but also may show more wear and be more costly to repair.

The non-turbo inline-6 N52 engine is likely the most durable. My experience with the N55 engine has been positive. The N20 inline-4 cylinder engine is less smooth and not much more fuel efficient. The technical director of BMW Car Club of America has stated he believes turbo 4 cylinders in general are prone to more problems at higher mileage than are 6 cylinder engines.
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      06-12-2019, 05:51 PM   #8
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Hey MichMike: so, what model/brand runflats on the X3?

Last year when I test drove several F25's I got my first ever taste of RF tires, pretty harsh in my book. Car I ended up buying had regular tires, better ride by a long ways- I carry a compressor and puncture repair kit/tools.
Take care/Bill
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      06-15-2019, 08:03 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wgosma View Post
Hey MichMike: so, what model/brand runflats on the X3?
My wife prefers run-flat tires when she is driving. She is not going to fix a tire and does not want to be stranded waiting for road service.

In my opinion, BMW has done a good job of tuning the X3 suspension to work with the stiffer sidewalls on the run-flats. I understand why many drivers prefer conventional tires, but the X3 is not a sports car and the run-flat tires have been fine in my experience.

I have OEM Goodyear run-flat tires on 18 inch wheels on one of my two 2016 X3s. The Goodyear tires leave something to be desired in snow as well as spirited driving, but are fine on the >500 mile road trips I drive several times each year.

I also have a 2016 X3 with 19' wheels. The shorter sidewall on the 19" tires leads to a somewhat harsher ride than the 18" wheels. I have replaced the OEM Goodyears on this X3 with Michelin Primacy run-flat tires. The Michelin tire offers a better ride and improved handling over the OEM Goodyear.
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      06-17-2019, 06:52 AM   #10
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I went with X3

I went with the X3 mainly because I didn't want to deal with the cost of repair for turbo in 535 with 88K.

The Good:
I really like the X3 drove about 110 miles on the way back home from the dealership. A very nice ride and great pickup on 0 to 30MPH the first 3 gears are very responsive. My wife wanted something that was higher in height so this worked in our favor. The X3 has multiple packages too so that is a plus, love the seats with real leather so much comfortable for long drives and has only 62K miles so looking to hold on for several years.

No run flats have brand new Michelin Primacy Mxm4.

The Bad:
Has valve cover gasket leak dealer wanted to charge me $2500 additional to get it fixed including the oil housing gaskets if I wanted too if I didn't purchase they were going to wholesale it to a private/indy dealership. I took the risk and said no thanks on the additional repair after researching that this is a common issue and something I will be able to do since I've done many valve cover work on MB. I went and made a calculated risk.
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      06-17-2019, 08:18 AM   #11
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Looks good. I have the same rims for my snow tires. You mentioned multiple packages...did it come with the Head Up Display? If it did, you/your wife will become so accustomed to it that you wont want to get another vehicle without it!

Must not have been bought from a BMW dealership, they wouldn't have sold it with the valve cover gasket leaking. And surprised about the non-run flats too, the PO before trade in must have put those on...win for you! I hate how the run flats drive.

Enjoy the X3 and get that valve cover gasket changed ASAP so you don't have to think about it.
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      06-17-2019, 09:23 AM   #12
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@najnad - No heads up display or rear seat heating :-( I did test drive heads up display on the 535i but being a 5' 5" in height it didn't matter for me. I did get it from a BMW dealership (https://www.bmwofsterling.com/) on NOVA. They didn't want to sell it at first because of the valve cover but GM said they messed up on the inspection and it should not have been listed I can have it as is. They washed the engine before I paid them to confirm if the leak is from valve cover I did look at the head gasket still looks new and no oil leaks.

I also have one month/1000 miles warranty from Edmunds.com since I searched it from their website going to try to have warrenty company fix the valve cover if it's covered.

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      06-17-2019, 09:37 AM   #13
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Nice car, good choice, enjoy!

The oil filter housing and valve cover gaskets ARE areas that commonly leak at some point in time, but reasonably simple DIY repair if ever needed.

My 2012 car is at about same mileage- I'm going to have the tranny fluid and Xfer case fluids changed at ~ 75K miles....something to consider for car one will keep for many years.

Another PM is the drive belt and it's tensioner/pulley; I replaced mine but I was really a bit early; definite item to do at 100K mile mark...pulley and belt don't last forever. Again, simple and inexpensive DIY.

Good luck/Bill
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      06-17-2019, 02:16 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pin2 View Post
I went with the X3 mainly because I didn't want to deal with the cost of repair for turbo in 535 with 88K.

The Good:
I really like the X3 drove about 110 miles on the way back home from the dealership. A very nice ride and great pickup on 0 to 30MPH the first 3 gears are very responsive. My wife wanted something that was higher in height so this worked in our favor. The X3 has multiple packages too so that is a plus, love the seats with real leather so much comfortable for long drives and has only 62K miles so looking to hold on for several years.

No run flats have brand new Michelin Primacy Mxm4.

The Bad:
Has valve cover gasket leak dealer wanted to charge me $2500 additional to get it fixed including the oil housing gaskets if I wanted too if I didn't purchase they were going to wholesale it to a private/indy dealership. I took the risk and said no thanks on the additional repair after researching that this is a common issue and something I will be able to do since I've done many valve cover work on MB. I went and made a calculated risk.
Add a JB1 Tuner piggyback and those first 3 gears will be even more fun.
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