How Many Miles Can A BMW Last? [Understand BMW Reliability]

A few things come to mind when you think of buying a BMW. Considering the brand calls itself the ultimate driving machine, you are likely to feel good about driving a BMW. Of course, reliability is another thing that would make you consider buying one. However, how many miles can a BMW last?

Several reliability reports show that a BMW can last over 150,000 miles with consistent and professional maintenance. Of course, this can vary from one BMW model to another and the driving habits. If you can stick to the recommended maintenance schedule, you should enjoy driving the BMW vehicle for years. 

While driving around your city, it is so easy to find several BMW cars as old as 20 years and still going strong. So, does this make BMW reliable? Well, so many things go into determining if a brand is reliable.

You may also find several negative reviews about BMWs. This is like any other brand, however, we are here to find out more about how many miles most BMWs can last and if they are reliable cars. We still point out which are the most reliable BMWs you can buy right now.

How Many Miles and Years Will a BMW Last?

When you buy a new BMW that is still under manufacturer warranty, you mostly do not worry about how many miles it can cover. This is because it is still under warranty. However, what if the warranty is over? Will you still have the same confidence?

As mentioned already, BMWs can last over 150,000 miles with the usual maintenance. This applies to most BMW models.

150K miles is not bad. However, if they are hard 150K miles, that BMW might not serve its next owner quite well. So, driving habit is still a factor in determining the reliability of a brand.

In terms of years, BMWs can last for years with proper routine maintenance. We have scenarios where the 80’s BMWs are still running. So, if you can give it the right maintenance that it deserves, then the vehicle should last quite a long.

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A recent survey released by Consumer Reports shows that for the longest time, BMW has risen to third place as one of the most reliable brands behind Toyota and Lexus. This might come as a surprise, considering the history of BMW, but it seems people find its cars quite reliable.

Even with the recent improvements in BMW reliability, that has not always been the case. The brand has been plagued with vehicles that would start to have broken parts when they are still relatively new. This has definitely raised concerns about owning a BMW. However, with good research, you can still get quality BMWs that can last you long enough.

Common Problems with BMWs

Common Problems with BMWs

When you own a BMW, you would want to know if it will be a reliable vehicle for you and your family. As much as these vehicles can last thousands of miles, there is a chance of them developing problems too.

BMW commonly experience problems related to electricals, oil leaks, and cooling system. Understanding how these problems affect your BMW can help in proper maintenance too.

1. Electrical Issues

As you keep putting more miles on your BMW, you may notice it develops electrical issues such as damaged lock actuators, faulty TPMS, window regulators, and so much more. As much as not all BMWs might succumb to this problem, it is good to take note.

We have also noticed that lights might also go off in some models. This is mostly because of blown fuses. You would think BMW would do a good job of making quality products.

2. Oil Leaks

BMW engines can deliver a lot of power when you need it. However, you would still have to deal with oil leaks at some point.

Surveys show that you may start experiencing oil leaks when the vehicle is around 100,000 miles. Some models may experience the same issue as early as 50,000 miles.

The main reasons BMWs develop oil leaks is because of worn valve cover gasket, oil pan gasket, and oil filter housing & gasket.

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Listening to many BMW owners, it seems experiencing oil leaks is part of owning a BMW. Make sure to repair the oil leaks as soon as they happen or take preventative measures by replacing the gaskets before they start leaking.

Here is a video with details on BMW oil leaks

YouTube video

3. Cooling system issues

We all know the importance of having a proper cooling system in a vehicle. It can be really impressive when your BMW goes beyond 100,000 miles without you having to change the water pump.

When a water pump fails, then it means the vehicle is not cooling as well. This can potentially lead to the engine overheating.

Other than water pump problems, you may also experience leaky coolant hoses, broken cooling fans, and a burst radiator.

The worst can be when it is a turbo engine. Without proper cooling, you will experience heating problems because the engine tends to get too hot.

Which are the Most Reliable BMWs?

Which are the Most Reliable BMWs

Maybe you are interested in getting a BMW that would last you long enough without breaking to enjoy it. Here are a few BMW models that can last long over many miles.

  • E90 3 series might have had bugs before, but most of them have been addressed and the model is quite good.
  • E46 3 series is another BMW to have many miles in without worrying something would break. Just make sure to serve it well and it will serve you too.
  • E83 X3 BMW model is another fantastic BMW. It features good reliability and will be quite dependable. Its gearbox plus good engine are known to deliver smooth power each time you need it.  

Which are the Least Reliable BMWs?

Which are the Most Reliable BMWs

When people make fun of BMWs not getting past 75K miles, it makes you also want to know which BMWs to avoid. Here is a quick list of the least reliable BMWs you can buy today.

  • BMW 3 Series 316i tends to have a stretched timing chain. This can lead to breaking over time. If you buy it, make sure to change it as soon as possible.
  • BMW 1 Series 118i has been known to have Vanos unit failure and timing chain failure too. A faulty timing chain definitely stalls the engine.
  • BMW 5 Series 520i is also full of problems such as the timing chain failing. Another common problem is the gasoline ejector can also malfunction.
  • BMW 320d with a 2.0 diesel engine. It has a razor-sharp sprocket that can lead to the shattering of the timing chain. A broken timing chain is never good for your engine.
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How Much Does it Cost to Maintain a BMW?

How Much Does it Cost to Maintain a BMW

We have already explained that BMWs may face several problems as they age, but can you still keep them in good condition? That would only happen when you do proper maintenance.

BMW owners are expected to pay around $150 to $400 per service for every 10,000 miles.  A newer car is cheaper to maintain, so you would have to worry about paying a lot of money.

A major service can cost up to $3,000. So, the national average is $1500 per year for most of the BMWs in the market right now.

BMW offers the Ultimate Care plan coverage for their cars. This is simply a warranty on different parts of your BMW vehicle. The Ultimate Care will cover items such as;

  • Fuel filter
  • Remote control and battery
  • Vehicle check
  • Spark plugs
  • Engine air filter
  • Brake fluid
  • Engine oil
  • Engine filter
  • Cabin microfilter

However, if you lack this coverage, it means you have to pay out of pocket. This includes getting the standard BMW maintenance.

How much you spend for standard BMW maintenance can depend on what you need to be changed. Here is a table of the cost you may expect to pay for some services.

Service/Repair Cost ($)
Oil Change 150
Engine filter 100
Spark Plugs 150
Turbocharger assembly replacement 2,300
Windshield wiper motor replacement 650
Wheel hub assembly replacement 300

How to Get More Mileage Performance Out of BMW

So you have seen that BMWs like any other vehicles would likely have some problems of their own. However, you love your BMW and you would like to keep driving it. Here are ideas on making it last longer.

  • Stick to routine maintenance. People do not understand that if the vehicle is serviced on time, most of the issues can be prevented. So, when it is time to service it, have it done professionally.
  • Use genuine BMW parts: OEM parts can be expensive, but they will do a better job of keeping your BMW in good shape compared to the cheap knockoff which would not last as long.
  • Have an issue repaired as soon as possible. It might come as a surprise, but some people can ignore an issue as long as the vehicle is still moving. For this reason, you may end up with a car that keeps breaking down.
  • Work with qualified mechanics. If you want to keep the BMW running correctly, go ahead and work with only qualified mechanics. Even if you have to take it to a dealer for service, it is okay so long as you are assured of professional service.
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Here are more details on BMW maintenance

YouTube video

Are Used BMWs Reliable?

Maybe you have just seen a seemingly clean-looking BMW on sale online. Should you go for it? Will it be reliable?

The fact that you have opted for a used BMW, means that you are ready to take up ownership of a very reliable or unreliable vehicle. It depends on how the previous user has used it.

Sometimes, it is not the previous owner’s fault, but some BMWs are not known to be reliable past 100K miles. So, used BMWs can be reliable if previous owners took good care of them and also had professional mechanics work on them.

If you are going to get a used BMW, here are a few tips to consider;

  • Do your homework to ensure you are not buying a vehicle that would easily break the next time you are on the road
  • Check the vehicle history. A good vehicle history helps you understand it so that even if you have to do a few repairs, you already know about them.
  • Do not buy the first BMW you see. It is okay to check out several vehicles and then decide which one to get.


Are BMWs expensive to maintain as they age?

BMWs are not in the same price range as Toyotas or Nissans when it comes to maintenance. Something that would cost $50 to service in a Toyota can cost $100 in a BMW. Also, BMWs would break down more often than Toyotas, making them more expensive to maintain as they age. It is estimated you can pay up to $1500 per year for BMW maintenance.

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How much does to insure a BMW?

The insurance depends a lot on the insurance company and the car’s age. The older the car, the more you may have to pay for a policy. A BMW X1 is likely to cost around $1,255 per year for insurance. We recommend contacting your insurance company for more details on how much it costs to insure the vehicle.

Should you buy or lease a BMW?

This one largely depends on the owner. Leasing can be good when you do not see yourself owning the BMW for many miles. Most people leasing would use it for a year or two and then change to another vehicle. Buying is for those who want a sentimental attachment to the vehicle and would like to keep it around for longer.

What is high mileage for a BMW?

A high mileage for BMW is when it starts developing issues with the engine, cooling systems, and more. That will be over 100,000 miles. Any BMW over this mileage is considered high mileage and you may have to pay for more broken parts to keep on the road. However, if it has been maintained well over the years, it should still last you without spending too much.

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