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Read our short guide with information on the most popular models.
Whilst BMW is seen as one of those iconic brands that have a rock-solid reputation, the fact is that sometimes problems can occur and things have to be fixed. As with all brands, BMWs sometimes also suffer from manufacturing and design errors that need fixes, as such BMW has recalled cars a number of times in the past. One of the earliest recalls was for the for the E36 3-Series model where BMW found that corrosion could occur which led to weakened steering shafts. [R/1997/005] BMW made sure to replace affected shafts during the recall, but of course if buying second-hand it's always advisable to check if this was fixed.
Whilst some recalls are very specifically for a certain model type, it can occur that a manufacturer needs to repair issues across model ranges. In the late 90s, for example, BMW had to repair an issue with the brake lights, which would fail or start to flicker due to a brake switch malfunction, on the 3, 5 and 7 Series models. [R/1999/104]
More recently the same models suffered from an issue with the rubber mountings on the rear shock absorbers, which could fail and according to BMW could ultimately mean that the bodywork above the wheels could come into contact with the actual wheels. As is usual BMW recalled the car to repair the problem, on all those cars the shock absorbers would be replaced. But as ever, if the owner did not actually bring the car to the workshop it might be that the problem might still be there, hence a replacement of the faulty part might still be required, as such it is always important to check with BMW. [ R/2006/119]
The smallest of the BMW range, this hatchback has established itself as a reliable with the DVSA listing no recalls. On some 6 cylinder models, like the 128i and the 135i for example, it was reported that bolts keeping the VANOS timing housing units in place could loosen over time, and in some cases break leading to a loss of power as the emergency mode may be activated. This was subsequently fixed by BMW in a recall to replace the bolts. [R/2014/068 - BMW 0011280300& 0011360300]
The BMW 3 Series has been the companies' biggest seller since the 1970s, appearing under many guises, such as a saloon or hatchback. Various issues have been logged by the DVSA. One of the more significant ones was a fault with the lower steering shaft identified in models built between 1991 and the end of 1998. It was found that corrosion could be found on the lower steering shaft of some cars, which meant the shaft could fail. [R/2000/135] BMW of course took action and inspected potentially affected cars, fitting a modified shaft if it was found to be faulty.
BMW's small X3 SUV has made a great name for itself for itself, providing impressive off-road capabilities in an attractive package. The limited number of recalls logged only boosts the X3’s reputation. However, some Diesel versions of the car were recalled due to a risk of fire that could occur due to moisture entering the engine's fuel filter heater at its electrical connection. This issue would also lead to the battery discharging which could cause the car not to stop [R/2011/123 - BMW 0013080200] Some of the X3's six-cylinder models were also affected by BMW's recall to replace the bolts for VANOS timing units which could loosen or break [BMW 0011280300& 0011360300 - R/2014/068]
Not longer after the X5 was introduced, it was found that in some models built between 2000 and 2002 the brake hose could rub on the tyre after becoming dislodged from it's retaining grommet attached to the side suspension strut. Ultimately, the brake hose could become damaged and start to leak brake fluid leading to reduced or complete loss of braking. BMW fixed the problem during a recall by fitting a new clip and checking for damage. [R/2003/026] Like some other BMWs with 6 cylinder engines built in the years 2009 to 2011, issues with VANOS system have occurred, due to bolts loosening or in some cases breaking. BMW recognised the problem and called for a recall in 2014 to replace the retaining bolts on the system to sort the issue. [R/2014/068 - BMW 0011280300& 0011360300]
Some BMWs built from September 2006 to July 2010, including the 5 Series, have suffered from a risk of fire caused by the battery cable connectors coming undone, which could lead to the car not starting. In most cases this was caused by the battery's plastic cover having been fitted incorrectly during vehicle manufacture. BMW were quick to rectify this in a recall starting in 2012, where the battery's clips would be checked and the cover replaced and sealed to prevent the problem from re-occurring. [R/2012/039 - BMW 0061560300] Some 5 Series fitted with 6 cylinder engines were also affected by the major recall involving the VANOS timing system. It was found that bolts on the unit's housing could come undone leading to an internal oil leak which affected the overall operation of the system, leading to the activation of emergency mode during driving. [R/2014/068 - 0011280300& 0011360300]
The modern iteration of the 6 Series sports car was introduced in 2003. Like some of the 5 Series models built between September 2006 and July 2010, it had the battery connector cable where the cover could come loose in some cases. Another known fault with the 6 Series, leading to a recall in 2006, involved the failure of the rear shock absorber mounting due a quality problem with the part. [R/2006/119] A problem involving moisture entering the additional coolant pump for the turbocharger occurring on cars built between 2007 and the end of 2011 caused an increase in short circuiting which lead to parts of the pump melting and in rare cases, a localised fire would break out. [R/2011/147 - BMW 0011830200]
The 7 Series, BMW's ultimate luxury executive vehicle was on the receiving end of some recalls by the manufacturer. Recently the 7 Series was recalled for repairs to the VANOS variable valve timing system, fixing an issue also seen on other BMWs fitted with the unit built from 2009 to 2011. Bolts on the housing would fail causing the car to go into emergency mode. [R/2014/068 - BMW 0011280300& 0011360300]
The specialist sports car model was in production for a mere 10 years, due to relatively poor sales. Inline with the 3, 5 and 7 Series of the era some models built up to November 1994, the 8 series could suffer from an overload of the coolant circuit. In some cases, if the heat exchanger part of the system is affected, steam could enter the passenger cabin and steam up the windscreen or cause injury to lower legs and feet, and sometimes hot water would even escape into the cabin. BMW solved the issue by fitting a new radiator cap. [R/1998/083]
BMWs first mass-produced sports car, after a niche endeavour with the Z1, proved to be a real hit. The DVSA lists no recalls for the car.