davidaltmejd.com is a participant in the Amazon Associate program, we may earn a small commission from the qualifying purchases of our recommended links. Learn more.

The Popular BMW 3 Series Reliability & How Many Miles Can a BMW 3 Series Last

The reliability of the BMW 3 series has been in discussion for a long time. While some argue that BMW 3 series are not reliable cars, others say they are.

At one point, it may become confusing for people who want to buy BMW 3 series to find out the truth about these.

If you’re reading this, you should count yourself among the few people that will get accurate information about the BMW 3 series.


How Many Miles Can a BMW 3 Series Last?

The longevity of the BMW 3 Series is largely dependent on maintenance. If a BMW series is adequately maintained, it will last longer.

But it won’t run for longer miles if it’s not maintained well. On average, a BMW series can run for 200,000 – 250,000 miles before it stops functioning.

But it can run for longer miles and reach up to 300,000 miles if it’s maintained well.

That is, if a BMW series runs for 20,000 miles in a year, which means that, on average, it will last for 10-12 years.

This is why it is better to determine the lifespan per mile and not per year. Determining the lifespan of a BMW series per year won’t do enough justice.

The factors that determine the longevity of a BMW series include; maintenance, how often it is used, road network, etc.

A Detailed Insights of BMW 3 Series Reliability

01. Different Generations

The generations of the BMW 3 are different in their reliability. The first, second, and third generations, which consist of E21, E30, and E36, have a lot of issues that have been rectified in newer generations.

They don’t have the highest performance, but they are very reliable. They have issues with their structure, and they are old models.

It is difficult to ascertain the reliability of the last two generations of this series. That is the sixth and seventh generation.

The models include the F30, F31, F34, F35, G20, G21, and G28. The generations were produced between 2011 and 2018.

Some of the models have not existed for 20 years. So it’ll be impossible to say they are the most reliable.

The fourth generation which includes the E46 models have also proven to be reliable over time. They are stylish, high in performance, and are endorsed by many car users.

The fifth generation, also known as the E9x includes the E90, E91, E92, and E93 models. They have the least reliability except for the E90 models.

02. Different Powertrains

The power train of the BMW 3 series includes majorly the engine and transmission. The engines and transmission have undergone several modifications.

The engine series includes cylinder engines, VANOS engines, and turbocharged engines. The engines use different fuels.

Some use diesel while some use petrol. The turbocharged engine series seems to be the least reliable.

This series uses both automatic and manual transmission depending on the model. Proper maintenance includes checking the fluid and filter.

And replacing the filter if need be. If the transmission of this series is properly maintained, it may run for about 200,000 depending on the model of the car.

Therefore, proper maintenance of the powertrains will prolong the reliability of the car.

03. Different Production Years

The production of the BMW 3 series began in 1975 with E21 models. The cars produced this year are not reliable, and they need many upgrades.

Then the second models were made between 1982-and 1990. This year witnessed a lot of upgrades, and they have higher reliability than the first cars.

The third model was produced between 1990 and 1996. It is argued by spectators that this year produced the most reliable of this series.

While some agreed that the most reliable series were produced between 1997 and 2004. It is safe to say that these two production years produced the most reliable BMW 3 series.

Between 2004 and 2011, the E9x comprises the E90, E91, E92, and E93 models. This year witnessed the production of the least reliable cars because of the surcharge engines that were used.

Between 2011 and 2018, models with new and enticing features were produced. The year witnessed high technology and innovation.

And the production of more reliable cars. The latest models are produced between 2018 till date.

Which BMW 3 Series Models Are Most Reliable?

There are many debates among car owners, call sellers and mechanics about which BMW 3 series is the most reliable.

The comparison usually revolves around E36, E46, E90, and F30. Since each of these models has its strength and weakness, it is very difficult to pinpoint the best.

Judging by the overall score of all BMW 3 series and the most popular opinion. The E36 seems to be the most reliable among all BMW cars.

It takes a long time before developing faults. It has an average life span of 200,000 miles. Meaning that could last for 20 years if it runs 10,000 miles in a year.

However, E36 models are old cars, and they don’t have the best performance, but they are the most reliable.

Car owners endorse the E36 series for many reasons. Firstly, it used hydraulic steering, which is intriguing to drivers.

It is also simple and not too costly to maintain, unlike other BMW models. Maybe in a decade, F30 may be agreed upon by all and sundry as the most reliable because they are equally reliable cars.

But for now, it is not safe to make such an assumption. Also, the E46 and E90 models have little trouble with their engines and some other parts.

Although they also last long, they don’t qualify as the most reliable BMW 3 series.

Which BMW 3 Series Are The Worst in Reliability?

Most of the BMW 3 series produced between 2006 and 2011 are not reliable. Although they have high performance, are stylish, and are preferred to the old E36 and E46 models.

But they are poor in reliability except for E90 models. The BMW 3 series that is worst in reliability is the E92 335i model.

Some models of E92 start breaking down after running 30,000 – 40, 000 miles. That is just about 2-4 years, depending on how often they are used.

But on average, they run for about 70,000 miles before breaking down. They have issues with engines, transmission, and other parts of the cars.

Users of the models complain about the car breaking down regularly.

They also complain about oil leaks, overheating, the vibration of the steering, tail lamp assembly issues, braking issues, and engine problems, among others.

Is BMW 3 Series Expensive To Maintain and Repair?

Generally, BMW cars are expensive to maintain, and BMW 3 series is no exception. This is because BMW 3 series are luxury cars, and they are made with expensive car parts.

They have superb interior and exterior looks and give a great deal of comfort. They are used by people in the higher social class, and they are worth the money spent to maintain them.

Maintaining and repairing a BMW 3 series may cost on average 1,000-1500 dollars in a year.

However, the BMW company provides about on average 120,000 miles assurance on most models of the BMW 3 series.

If you’re still within the warranty/servicing year, you won’t spend much on maintaining a BMW 3 series car.

Also, older models of the BMW 3 series, especially the first two generations are less expensive to maintain.

Common Issues Found in BMW 3 Series That Affect Their Reliability

01. Rust

Even though rusting is not a dominant issue associated with the BMW 3 series, it is still worth mentioning.

Depending on the age of the car and other factors, a BMW 3 series can experience rusting.

Therefore, it is important to clean and wax the car regularly to prevent the occurrence of rust.

02. Engine Malfunction

The BMW 3 has issues with the engine. Both the Turbocharged and variable valve timing systems had their problems.

The turbocharged type of engine system has problems with its fuel pump. And it is expensive to repair them.

The variable valve timing system causes the engine to accumulate dirt as it runs, and this affects the functionality of the car.

03. Oil Pan Gasket Leaks Steering

A prominent problem with the BMW 3 series is oil leakage. This is usually a result of a leaking oil pan gasket, valve cover gasket, or the fuel pump.

Oil leakage can lead to more serious consequences on the car if it’s not promptly repaired.

Especially if it’s the oil pan gasket that is leaking. Because it links to the engine of the car, if it’s leaking, it means the engine won’t get enough oil.

04. Column Vibration

The steering wheel may start vibrating whenever you press the brake or while driving. It is important to consult a technician as soon as this happens to preserve the car.

05. Cooling System Failure

This problem is very common with BMW 3 series. The cooling system often fails as a result of overheating of the cars’ engine.

The leaking of coolant or water pump also contributed to the overheating of the cars. However, this problem varies with the model.

That is, some cars of this series are more prone to cooling system failure than others.

06. Tail Lamp Assembly Problems

The tail lamp assembly is an organized body that consists of the tail light, rare lamp, and brake lamp.

The lights are usually indicated at the car’s dashboard, and if they are affected by a bad connection or wiring issue, it affects the indicator at the dashboard.

07. Suspension and Brake Degradation

Over time, a BMW 3 suspension and brake may begin to function less. The brake takes longer before stopping the car or even loses its power.

The suspension system is also prone to fail after running for about 75,000 miles.

Is BMW 3 Series Reliable Compared To its Rivals?

01. BMW 3 Series Vs Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Both the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-class are good choices for luxury cars. They run almost the same miles, with BMW running slightly more.

BMW 3 series run for 150,000 -250,000 miles on average. The Mercedes Benz C-class can run for 150,000-200,000 on average. With the BMW 3 series developing lesser faults.

02. BMW 3 Series Vs Audi A4/S4

Although the two brands are reliable, one is more reliable than the other. And that is an Audi A4/S4.

AudiA4/S4 seems more reliable than the BMW 3 series because they have more ratings, and provide additional security and warranty. And they develop fewer faults.

03. BMW 3 Series Vs Lexus ES

No doubt, all BMW cars have higher performance than Lexus with only a few exceptions.

But when it comes to reliability, Lexus ES is leading. Lexus ES has proven to be more reliable than BMW 3 Series.

04. BMW 3 Series Vs Volvo S60

It is hard to judge which is more reliable between the BMW 3 Series and Volvo S60. They both have similar reliability ratings. So, it is safe to say that they have similar reliability.

05. BMW 3 Series Vs Mazda 6

Newer models of the Mazda 6 seem more reliable than BMW 3 series. There are only a few complaints about them from users.

And they need less maintenance when compared to the BMW 3 series.

How Well Do BMW 3 Series Hold Their Resale Value?

Most BMW 3 Series cars lose their value after a few years except for a few. Luxury cars, especially the ones that are made in generations do not hold their resale value well.

This is because the older models become obsolete as newer models are produced. People will rush to buy the newer models. So, the older ones are sold for a lower price.

Also, BMW 3 Series depreciates quickly. Averagely, the depreciation of a BMW 3 series after five years is about 55℅. That is a lot.

The more you drive the car (or, the more miles it runs), the more it depreciates.

However, some BMW 3 series, especially the newer models, have a lower depreciation rate. It is usually the same with other luxury cars except for a few.

Tips To Prolong BMW 3 Series Reliability

01. Drive Safely

Driving carefully and safely is one of the best ways to prolong the life of a BMW series.

Driving roughly can make you run into a bump or even lead to a road accident that will cost a lot to repair.

02. Repair Faults Immediately

If you notice any mechanical fault in the car such as leakage, tail lamp assembly problems, engine failure, cooling system failure, etc. Immediately. Delaying the repair can make the problem worse.

03. Regular Inspection

Ensure to check up on your BMW 3 series car regularly at least once a year. This will promote prompt detection of faults. Doing this will save you a lot of stress and maintenance costs.

04. Clean and Wax Your BMW 3 Series

Cleaning a BMW 3 series doesn’t only improve the car’s appearance, it also makes it function better.

It prevents dirt from collecting in delicate parts of the car. Also, waxing the BMW 3 series car regularly prevents the car from rusting.

05. Buy Good Fuel

Bad fuel can do much more damage to a BMW 3 series than to ordinary cars. To avoid buying a bad girl for your BMW car, buy fuel from credible stations.

Credible stations filter the gases and make sure they are clean before selling them.

Common Asked Questions

Can a BMW Series Last For 10 Years?

It is difficult to scale the lifespan of the BMW 3 series using years. It is more accurate to determine the lifespan by the number of miles it can run.

However, most BMW 3 series can last for 10 years. Some models last for longer years while some don’t last up to that period.

Proper maintenance is the key to the prolonged lifespan of a BMW 3 series.

Is Our BMW 3 Series Reliable?

The BMW 3 series is not the most reliable car. But compared to other luxury cars, they are doing well.

They have an average rating by customers and last longer if they are satisfactorily maintained.

However, some models of the BMW 3 series are more reliable than others.

Older generations are more reliable than the newer generations. However, newer generations of this series have a higher performance.

Is The BMW 3 Series Worth it?

Many people wonder if the BMW 3 series is worth the money spent on the maintenance and repair of cars.

Even though they are expensive to maintain, they are worth the money.

The cars are luxurious cars with high comfort, and they are used by people of high social class.

Final Words

In conclusion, the BMW 3 series is like most luxury cars in its reliability. They are not worse and they are not the best as well.

Generally, Luxury cars are hard to maintain. A slight fault or mishandling may cost a fortune to repair.

The reason for this is that most luxury cars, including BMW 3 series are built with performance and appearance in mind.

People who buy luxury cars care more about performance and not reliability.