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Are you having problems with your BMW? Let our team of motoring experts keep you up to date with all of the latest BMW issues & faults. We have gathered all of the most frequently asked questions and problems relating to the BMW in one spot to help you decide if it's a smart buy.
Some of these older luxury cars are tremendous bargains. Or, at least, they look like it in the classified adverts. There are a couple of reasons they're so cheap second-hand. The first is that people are (often rightly) scared of them going bang in an expensive way and requiring lots of pricey repairs. The second is called the funnel effect and happens when a luxury car like the 7-Series is bought brand-new usually by corporate customers. But, when the car is ready to be traded in a few years later, there simply isn't the volume of private buyers waiting for one to hit the market. So prices plummet. The same thing happens to Mercedes-Benzes, Audis and other luxury brands, too; it's not just a BMW thing.
Meantime, the rules of engagement are the same for any used car. The most important thing is not the distance the car has covered, but how well it's been maintained over the years. You need to see a stamped, up-to-date service handbook with no glaring gaps in the service history. Without that document, you could be buying an abused car that will let you down and empty your wallet.
The other thing to be a bit wary of in a 7-Series BMW of this vintage is the ex-hotel courtesy car. Back in the day, BMW had plenty of 7-Series to shift and a relative lack of takers, so the company offered them to hire-car and limousine taxi operators for about the same (leased) cost as a Holden Caprice. That's how so many of them wound up wearing a groove from the city to the airport.
A good, well maintained ex-hire car should be okay, but bear in mind a lot of them led pretty hard lives. That included a variety of drivers who may or may not have cared very much and long hours idling in gridlock traffic. Check the condition of the backseat to see whether it's been used often (does the wear in the back match that in the front?) and check the area around the rear bumper. This was often damaged as a million suitcases were loaded and unloaded from the boot.
The biggest determining factor in how a car copes with tougher terrain is driver behaviour. Drive the car sensibly, sympathetically and to the conditions and you'll be amazed where most cars will happily take you. But get it wrong and drive in a ham-fisted way, and even the roughest, toughest four-wheel-drive will suffer and fail.
The BMW X5 is a soft-roader at best, but should definitely have the suspension to tackle rough roads (as opposed to off-road). The biggest challenge will be the tyres fitted. Many of these vehicles had huge wheels with tyres with very little sidewall. These tyres are easily damaged on rough roads.
Since luggage space is not a critical issue for you, I'd suggest buying a full-sized spare tyre that fits the car, as the SUV's usual space-saver or tyre repair kit can be fairly useless in such conditions. But you also need to be honest about your intentions. By mud and water, do you mean the odd puddle, or 10km of rutted farm track with bog-holes for good measure? If there's any off-road work at all, then you need an off-road four-wheel-drive, not an SUV.
As such, the BMW holds a slim on-paper advantage with an official combined fuel consumption number of 4.4 litres per 100km, compared with 4.7 litres for the Benz. In the real world, that difference is a very, very small one and means the two vehicles are more or less line-ball for fuel economy.
Real world fuel consumption has a lot more to do with your driving environment and style than it does these laboratory-produced numbers. But the official numbers are valid on the basis that both vehicles were subjected to the same strict test regime, so they do provide a direct comparison, even if you'll almost certainly never match them in real life. Both, however, will surprise you with how frugal they can be.
You’d think this would be a fairly simple question to answer, but in reality, it’s far from it. It seems neither BMW nor Porsche offer what we know as fixed or capped price servicing, that is; a known price that the service will cost, paid when you need to have it carried out. This is not uncommon with prestige brands and reflects the changing costs of imported service parts as well as different marketing approaches.
BMW, however, comes closest to this concept with what it calls its Service Inclusive Basic Plan which requires the car’s buyer to pay up front, typically for the first five years, of servicing when the car is purchased. That sounds odd, but it makes sense to buyers leasing their cars as the service costs are then paid for as part of the financing package.
In the case of the BMW X4, this package, which covers consumables such as filters, oil, spark plugs and brake fluid (but not clutches, brake pads and windscreen wipers; that’s another step up to the Service Inclusive Plus Plan) lasts for five years or 80,000km (whichever comes first) and works out to an average of $350 per service or a total of $1750 over the plan’s duration. Fundamentally, it’s like other car-makers’ capped-price servicing but you pay up front for it.
Meanwhile, at Porsche, the servicing costs for a Macan over the same 80,000km/five-year period will depend on what state you live in as labour rates vary from state to state. Since you’re from NSW, I’ll use the data from that state. As such, the Macan will need an annual service at one-year/15,000km costing $695. The next service at two years/30,000km is an intermediate service at $995, followed by another annual service at three years/45,000km ($695 again). The four-year/60,000km service is a major one costing $1750, followed by the five- year/75,000km service at $695 to end with. In total, that’s a grand total of $4830, making the Porsche by far the most expensive car to service for those first five years.
Both the existing Genesis G90 (and its closely related Kia K9 sedan) are flagship models not available in Australia due to the tiny pool of buyers that swim in the upper-luxury segment dominated by the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
The main stumbling block is probably the prohibitive cost of engineering these left-hand-drive market models for right-hand-drive. At over 5.2 metres long (and counting if you include the limo version), these are way too large for British roads, and the expected sales volumes from the rest of the right-hand-drive countries combined including Australia just doesn't make a viable business case for them.
Plus, big luxury SUVs are where the customers are heading, so a luxury crossover flagship from fledgling Genesis would make much more sense anyway. Sorry, but please don't hold your breath for a G90 in Australia any time soon.
However, the all-electric G80 – Genesis' big 5 Series-priced rival – is said to be heading Downunder inside the next 12 months. The EV limo is the brand’s first fully electric model and will have “more than 500km range” to take on the coming Mercedes-Benz EQS electric luxury flagship sedan.
With the Germans in particular hungry to mine every single niche – fanned by the flames of electrification and a hunger by the ever-growing number of global billionaires for the biggest and best – an 'uber, uber SUV' above the X7 will probably happen.
BMW is saying nothing of course, and we're only speculating here, but if it ever happens, it would almost certainly be electric or electrified, and may spawn a Rolls-Royce offshoot, since BMW owns that English brand.
So, nothing for now, but don't bet against an X8 or even X9. They're likely inevitable given enough time.
It’s definitely true that the march of new-car technology is making big changes to the cars we’re being offered almost on a monthly basis. So, if your current car is just three years old, it might be worth holding on to it and waiting for the next big thing to arrive in showrooms. Certainly, by trading-in at just three years, you’ll pretty much max out the depreciation you’ll suffer in financial terms.
But by waiting, you might find that you can buy an electric vehicle and be able to tap into newer and better infrastructure that will be in place in another few years, rather than put up with the relatively sparse charging-station network currently in this country.
At the moment, a hybrid or plug-in hybrid is a pretty good way to go, provided you use the vehicle mostly in an urban setting, rather than long-distance freeway journeys where the hybrid tech is less advantageous. A hybrid is not exactly future-proof, but it’s a good next step for a lot of Australian car-owners.
As for what brand is best, the tech is getting better and better as time goes by, so it’s likely to be build date rather than brand that will determine the efficiency of the vehicle in question. That said, car owners can’t hold off forever when it comes to upgrading, so for the moment, a hybrid or plug-in hybrid is a logical next car. We’re particularly impressed by the current-model Toyota Camry which is good value to buy, a classy driving experience and offers hybrid fuel efficiency in the right environment. Such cars will be a lot of Australian families’ first hybrid, and rightly so.
Despite the price and BMW’s reputation, this series of X5 was not without its problems. Specific to the diesel-engined versions was a raft of things to watch out for when shopping for a second-hand X5. Those start with a poorly designed intake system which used small flaps in each inlet trat designed to create better air and fuel mixing and, therefore, more complete burning of the fuel. The problem was that these little flaps were secured by two screws each, and these could become loose and fall into the engine with catastrophic results. In some cases, the screws could even migrate into the turbocharger unit, destroying it.
Like many other brands of modern turbo-diesel, the X5 could also be afflicted by problems caused by a blocked Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF). If the vehicle was used for urban work rather than highway running, the DPF could become clogged and unable to regenerate itself. Any X5 diesel with a `Service Engine Soon’ light illuminated on the dashboard is a potential problem child.
The car’s exhaust gas recirculation valve could also leak, causing faults within the emissions-control system, while the electronics associated with the fuel injectors could also be damaged by water entering the engine compartment.
Beyond the diesel engine, the rest of the X5 package was not without problems, either. Those can include electronic issues, poor water sealing around the body, noisy suspension and problems with petrol-engined variants as well. Fundamentally, this was not BMW’s finest hour quality-wise. It’s also worth noting that even though the BMW brand is a German one, this generation of X5s was manufactured in South Carolina in the USA.
That’s quite low mileage for a 2012 vehicle and, on the surface, suggests that it has led a pretty easy life. but you’d still only buy it if it is presented with a fully-stamped service book to prove that all the critical preventative maintenance has been carried out. These are complex, high performance cars and they won’t tolerate neglect in terms of skipped services.
The major mechanical problems with these cars were found in the engine’s variable valve timing (VANOS) system. Any 'Engine Malfunction' message or 'Check Engine' light in the dashboard could quite easily be caused by a fault in this system. The VANOS arrangement was also the first system to show the effects of poor servicing, so make sure it checks out before you hand over the cash. Fundamentally, though, these cars are not low-maintenance units, so make sure you budget for the necessary ongoing servicing.
Don’t forget, also, that this series of BMW was caught up in the Takata air-bag debacle. So make sure the car has been attended to as part of the global recall and don’t take a chance on any car with no proof of this air-bag replacement being carried out.
Urban dwellers love the look of huge wheels and low-profile tyres, but their country cousins generally hate them. That’s because those some giant wheel and tyre packages make the car ride more harshly and the tyres themselves are more prone to damage because there’s less sidewall to soak up impacts.
Switching to an 18-inch wheel and a tyre with more sidewall would definitely make the car ride better, but it’s not always that simple. For a start, you might run into problems in a legal and insurance sense because you’ve suddenly modified the car. To get around that, you should stick to the smallest wheel and tyre package that the manufacturer specified for that vehicle. In the case of a current model BMW X5 that’s a 19-inch wheel and tyre. That’s going to give a better ride than the 20-inch items you currently have, but it won’t be as big an improvement as an 18-inch package. If, however, yours is not the current model X5, then previous models did, in fact, offer an 18-inch package.
Either way, check with your insurance company that you’re not transgressing at some pedantic level and check, too, that the smaller wheels won’t drastically alter the overall gearing and suddenly make your speedometer inaccurate.
As for handling and braking, the differences between an 18-inch and 20-inch wheel tyre package would only be felt on a race-track and not in everyday driving conditions. But the improvement to ride quality will be felt every time you drive the vehicle.