Is BMW E90 Reliable? (Things You Need to Know)

The BMW E90 is a popular car that has been on the market for a few years now. It’s known for being stylish and luxurious, but is it reliable? Is it safe? How many miles can you expect to get out of it before it needs serious maintenance?

In this article, I will answer all of those questions. I’ll discuss the five-year cost of owning a BMW E90 and explain some of the most common problems with this vehicle. So, if you’re considering purchasing a BMW E90, make sure to keep reading.

Is BMW E90 Reliable?

Overall, the BMW E90 is a reliable car. It has few significant problems and is relatively easy to maintain. Especially the non-turbocharged 325i, 328i, and 330i models have the N52 BMW inline-6 engine. In addition, some older E90 models approached the quarter-million-mile mark with the proper maintenance schedule and are still going strong.

However, like all vehicles, it does have its share of issues. But with proper maintenance and care, they are significantly minimized. So if you’re looking for a reliable car that will last you for many years to come, the BMW E90 is a great option.

Also read: 3 Best BMWs for First Car (+Models to Avoid)

What are the Most Common Problems with the BMW E90?

The BMW E90 is an excellent car, but it has its share of problems, like all cars. Here are the top five most common problems with the BMW E90:

  • Engine overheating
  • Carbon Build-up
  • Oil leaks
  • Steering lock failure
  • Water Pump Failure

Oil Leaks

This issue is all too common with the 3 Series BMWs, and it usually occurs on the valve cover gaskets, oil pan gaskets, and even the oil filter housing gaskets.  They typically start to separate when exposed to too much heat, which is a common issue in the BMW E90.

The cost of fixing oil leaks can vary depending on the severity and location of the leak. Potentially, you’re looking at $576-$700 for your local garage to do it. Generally, this problem occurs in models with at least 60,000 miles. Frequent oil changes and inspections of the seals will help alleviate this ongoing issue.

Engine Overheating

Another common problem with the BMW E90 can be expensive to fix. However, it’s a problem that most E90 owners face at least once and usually occurs around 65,000 miles but can be as far out as 90,000 miles.

This issue results from several different problems within the E90’s engine, which could be causing the issue. While maintaining your E90, it’s essential to use quality coolant and keep it filled. Check for leaks, mainly in the reservoir or cooling system lines, inspect the thermostat, inspect the water pump, and ensure that the PCM is well-maintained–no bad wiring or letting it get wet.

  1. Replacing the thermostat – $530
  2. Replacing the Water pump – $350-$850
  3. Replace the PCM – $1,900
  4. Coolant flush – $189

If you have the proper equipment, you may save some money on labor and replace these parts on your own. However, it’s best to let a trained technician handle repairs.

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Steering Lock Failure

This is one of the most annoying ones that BMW owners have to endure as far as problems go. Essentially, owners will insert their keys into the ignition in the steering column, and the dashboard illuminates the red steering lock symbol and will not start.

Sometimes owners would wiggle the key or reinsert it a few times, eventually starting the car. However, this is only a temporary fix, and soon the wheel lock will ultimately fail. In turn, people would have their vehicles towed to the nearest dealership.

At a dealership, you’ll have to pay $2,500 or more to fix this issue. On the other hand, you could purchase the part and attempt the replacement job yourself. Eventually, the problem could be resolved by software updates or computer resets.

Water Pump Failure

Many BMW owners have something to say about the E90’s water pumps, and usually, they are not great things. Needless to say, this critical piece of equipment needs to be monitored frequently as your BMW begins to rack up the mileage.

The E90’s water pumps are electric and typically work well; however, it’s usually a sudden occurrence when they fail. Water pumps are not cheap and typically cost around $400 for the part, not including labor. You could save some money and replace the pump yourself if you are a capable DIYer. Otherwise, replacing the water pump as a preventative measure can help take the surprise out of the equation.

Carbon Build-up

While carbon build-up is not a problem unique to BMW models, the E90 has a consistent issue. Many owners are surprised just how bad the situation can get. The problem is the result of the E90’s N54 engine, specifically the direct fuel injection system.

While direct fuel injection may have a lot of advantages, it causes heavy carbon build-up in BMW E90s. Why? Due to the design, injectors do not shoot the intake ports or the valves with gasoline, so they don’t get cleaned. This leads to massive build-up that can diminish the available horsepower on your BMW.

Generally, mechanics will perform Walnut Blasting, where they shoot compressed air and walnut shells into the intake ports to clean the deposits. This service costs about $300 and should be done every 50,000 miles.

To reduce the carbon build-up, owners can:

  • Use BMW fuel cleaner every 5,000-10,000 miles
  • Change the oil every 7,500 miles or less

Also read: Is BMW E38 Reliable? (What to Expect?)

Which BMW E90 Years are the Best and Worst?

The BMW E90 was produced from 2005 to 2013, and naturally, some years are better than others. Therefore, we will cover this model’s top three best years and worst years.

The best years for the BMW E90 are 2009, 2010, and 2011. These years had fewer complaints and were more dependable than other years.  If you are looking for a reliable year, choose from the ones above.

The worst years for the BMW E90 are 2006, 2007, and 2008. These years had more complaints than other years. This information is based on complaints reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and

Also read: BMW E46 M3: Maintenance Costs (Calculation)

Which BMW E90 Engines are the Most and Least Reliable?

The E90 model of the BMW was first released in 2005. A few different engine types were available for this car, and each one had its own reliability issues. The N46B20 and N47D20 models were the least reliable engines, which had significant oil consumption problems.

In contrast, the most reliable engines were the N54B30 and the N52, with very few reported problems; some even called the N52 the best BMW ever made. Therefore, I suggest avoiding the earlier models and going for one with the N52 or N54B30 engine.

How Much Does BMW E90 Cost to Maintain?

The average cost of ownership for a BMW E90 is around $15,000 over five years. This includes maintenance, repairs, and fuel expenses. However, let’s dive a bit deeper and consider the whole picture. Consider the table below that describes the 5-year cost to own a 2016 BMW E90.

Year 1Year 2Year 3Year 4Year 5Total
Cost To Own$13,128$8,951$11,332$8,740$10,328$52,479

What is a Good Mileage for the BMW E90?

The good news is that the BMW E90 holds its value well. So you can expect to get around 50,000-125,000 miles out of a used E90 before it needs significant repairs. It’s also important to note that you can keep the car going over 225,000 miles with meticulous maintenance. Generally, you’ll find them with 55,000-75,000 miles on them.

What Parts Should You Replace and After How Many Miles?

The BMW E90 is a high-quality car that can last for many years with the proper care. There are, however, some parts you should replace after a certain number of miles.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The water pump and thermostat should be replaced every 60,000 miles.
  • The drive belts should be replaced every 60,000 miles.
  • According to the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule, the power steering and brake fluid should be replaced every 50,000 miles.
  • The cooling system should be checked at least once a year to ensure there’s enough coolant and the water pump is in good shape.
  • The tires should be rotated every 5000 miles for optimum performance and adequately inflated.
  • Check the transmission and change the fluid, even if a BMW dealer says it’s a lifetime fill. It’s not and should be changed every 50,000 miles.

Your car’s owner manual will provide specific information about when to replace parts, but these are some general guidelines that can help you keep your BMW E90 running smoothly.

Also read: Is BMW E92 Reliable? (All You Need to Know)

Are BMW E90 Parts Widely Available?

The BMW E90 is a popular model, and as such, replacement parts are widely available. There are many places to find parts for the car, both online and in stores. The best way to find the right part for your BMW is to use an online search engine or Parts Finder tool on a website like eBay Motors,, or

Many independent BMW dealers can also help you find and install the correct parts for your car. Ask reputable forums and get their recommendations if you’re not sure where else to look. Replacement parts are available for all model years of the BMW E90, so it’s essential to do your research before purchasing.

How to Buy a Reliable BMW E90?

When buying a used BMW E90, it is essential to keep an open mind and consider more than dealerships. When test-driving the car, make sure to take it on various roads and speeds to get a feel for how it handles. It is also essential to research the model you are interested in and read reviews from previous owners.

Be aware of any common problems with the model you are driving and ask the owner about them. If possible, have the car inspected by a mechanic before purchasing it. Water pump failures, oil leaks, and electrical system problems are the most common issues. It’s also important to check the car’s history report to ensure there haven’t been any major accidents or repairs. By taking these steps, you can ensure that you’re buying a reliable used E90.


The BMW E90 is a great car and has been popular for many years. Unfortunately, it’s had its share of problems, but if you’re aware of them and take preventative measures, your car should run like new for many years to come. I have outlined the most common issues with this model so you can be prepared before making your purchase.

Remember, these issues outlined in this article are just potential problems – overall, the BMW E90 is an excellent choice for a used car!


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