We all know some BMW drivers push their cars to the limits. This stigma around them has caused the prices of second-hand BMWs to plummet. But there is some truth to the saying that BMWs are to be bought with caution when you are not the first owner of your vehicle.
While not all used BMWs have problems, there are some used models like the BMW 1 Series (2004 – 2011) that you should avoid buying.
How unreliable are used BMW 1 Series
Whether a vehicle has been regularly serviced or not plays a great deal in the outcome of your purchase. Always make sure to check the wheels and brakes and inspect for signs of aggressive driving. If the wheels are curbed this is a good sign that there might be more issues with the vehicle due to the driving style of the previous owner.
Another read: Is BMW a bad idea to buy used?
The BMW 1 Series was originally designed and manufactured as a take on the VW Golf. Something that BMW omitted here is that the Golf is specifically designed to put in comfort before handling and speed, and is much more practical and durable than the BMW counterpart.
Two-thirds of all surveyed BMW A1 series drivers in the UK and U.S, have reported that their cars suffered from a problem at some point. Whether it was engine issues, battery problems or some common repairs, the repairs and servicing averaged at more than $2000. Very few of the drivers actually recommended their specific car model to others.
Common engine issues
When purchasing a used BMW 1 Series, particularly the 2004 – 2011 models, you should also pay close attention to the engine post ignition. If you see signs of rough running, or for example, the temperature of the engine is rising and falling all of a sudden, you have a problem. These symptoms mean ignition coil pack failure.
Moreover, if you sense any smell of petrol in the car there’s also something to worry about.
Tires, faulty gearboxes, and brakes
The BMW 1 Series commonly experiences tracking issues and faulty steering racks, which cause the front tires to wear out very quickly compared to other models. At least, this is one of the least costly replacements.
Aside from that, many users have reportedly stated that they experienced issues with the manual gearbox and clutches of their cars. Sometimes it is hard or even impossible to shift to the next gear which can be outright dangerous, if not frustrating at the very least.
Studies from risk management group CAP Derwent show that the BMW 1 Series might need a brake replacement. Or, in some cases, a major engine, gearbox or suspension repair might be needed, even within the first 80,000 miles.
Less expensive defects and repairs in the BMW 1 Series
Many other defects are noticed in used and even new BMW 1 series, such as faulty airbag systems, warning lights on dashboards for no reason, windows being shut and unable to open, the engine’s ECUs failing, and many others which even include important safety features shutting down.
Other major problems include issues with the axles and faulty seat belts. Not to mention, some diesel engine vehicles were reported to have caught fire. On the other hand, these problems occurred in a very small number of cars.
Advantages and disadvantages of the BMW 1 Series
All costly repairs, faults, and defects aside, the BMW 1 Series has some inherent advantages and disadvantages that need to be taken into account before purchasing.
Compared to other competitors for the niche of a sporty hatchback, like the Mercedes A-Class, the Audi A3 hatchback, or VW’s Golf, the BMW 1 Series is much more agile in terms of handling.
Its steering is on point and brings in a sportier feel than its competitors. In comparison with the A-Class, it has more legroom as well as headroom in the front.
On the other hand, the trunk is quite small and the backseat has no legroom whatsoever and is pretty cramped. Due to the sporty suspension, this is a firm and rough riding car. Moreover, the standard purchasing options are rather scarcely equipped with features compared to its competitors.
What are other bad used-BMW cars to avoid buying?
Avoid purchasing a used BMW 318D, as the timing belts on these vehicles are reported to need replacement quite often. And for some reason, an unpleasant surprise for the new owner is that the entire engine needs to be removed in order to replace a timing belt on these.
The hard-to-find and replace high-quality electric nozzles of the engine also fail quite quickly. Quite expensive repairs overall. If you are planning on purchasing one of these, set aside some cash for the repairs upfront.
BMW X5 and 5 series overall are also no-no. The X5 has serious design flaws, especially in the interior, which may make you prefer riding a bike rather than a car. There is a small engine, costly engine repairs and too many electronics, most of which are never used by users, that come hand in hand with this purchase.
Considering buying a use Audi: The worst Audi to buy used.
FAQs about used BMWs
What is the issue with purchasing a pre-owned BMW?
Experienced mechanics and car enthusiasts recommend staying away from pre-owned BMW cars. This is not only because their owners have driven them aggressively, but also because of many issues you might experience with the vehicles.
Costly repairs come hand in hand with used BMWs and it would be better to actually pick another brand or purchase a new BMW for the same price you would eventually give up for maintenance.
How expensive is a BMW to maintain on average?
Research data shows that BMWs are one of the most expensive cars to maintain and service in the world. The average costs of repairs for a decade are estimated to be almost $20,000 which means you would have to pay half the value of your car to keep it on the road.
Which is the most reliable BMW you could buy?
The most reliable BMW to buy is the E90 328i or 325i. A look at both the 2006 and the 2008 models has shown that both remain powerful and reliable. The non-turbocharged models have been noted to be fairly more reliable than the turbocharged ones. More power does not always mean a better car.