Is BMW Z3 Reliable? (What to Expect?)

Z3 is a famous two-seater sports car produced by BMW from 1995 to 2002. In the beginning, only the roadster variant with a convertible top was launched, but later in 1998 coupe models were also added to the lineup.

Nearly two decades have passed and still, BMW Z3 is a desirable car. But before making any purchase decision, people often ask “Is BMW Z3 Reliable?” Shortly you will have an answer to this question along with some useful information.

Is BMW Z3 Reliable?

BMW Z3 is a quite reliable car and performs relatively better than similar cars from the 90s. Of course, it cannot compete with the reliability of Japanese cars but in the luxury class segment, it is considered a safe choice.

The reliability of any particular BMW Z3 will depend upon the fact that how well the car was maintained. Regular inspections and timely replacement are key to its reliability in the long run. Certainly, it does have some minor issues, but overall the reliability rating of the BMW Z3 is on the higher side.

Also read: Is BMW E36 Reliable? (with Buying Tips)

What are the Most Common Problems with the BMW Z3?

The five most common problems associated with the BMW Z3 are mentioned below, along with the cost to them.

  • Engine Oil Leaks: Motor oil leakage from the engine is a common problem for BMW Z3. You can easily notice it by inspecting the engine and if the engine is running, the leakage will cause a burning smell.

Engine oil leaks can happen after every 60k miles, and most probably the reason would be the valve cover gasket. The replacement cost of the gasket is $300 to $350. Parts are priced at around $50 and labor costs are $250 to $280.

  • Power Steering Problems: You are also likely to face power steering problems with the BMW Z3. The most common issue is the leakage of the power steering fluid, which is responsible for distributing the hydraulic pressure. If the leak is because of the power steering hose, then you can expect to only $90 for the repairs.

In case of fluid pump failure or any other major repair, the costs can soar up to hundreds of dollars. The power steering fluid leakage is reported to occur every 50k miles or five years.

  • Cooling System Failure: BMW Z3 cooling system tends to cause issues after every 70k to 100k miles. The underlying reason can be anything like water pump failure, radiator malfunctioning, or hose leakage.

This problem should be solved immediately because overheating due to cooling system failure can cause damage to the engine. The cooling system hose or valves can be replaced for under $100 and a complete replacement would cost at least $850.

  • Convertible top issues: Roadster variants of the BMW Z3 sometimes face issues with the convertible top. Either they tend to leak or they do not operate properly. This usually happens because of the frequent and irresponsible use of the feature.

A hard-convertible top will be replaced for almost $1000 and a soft one is likely to be priced under $500.

  • Corrosion and Rust: Almost every BMW Z3 available in the market would be in its twenties. If not properly cared for and maintained, the car’s body and frame tend to rust after such a period.

You should avoid buying such a model that has any signs of rust and corrosion. There is a more probability of this issue if the previous car owner happens live in a moist or damp environment.

Which BMW Z3 Years are the Best and Worst?

BMW Z3 was only produced for around eight years and honestly speaking there are no worst years for this car. Models of the first two years are slightly less powerful but in terms of reliability, they are equally good as any other model.

Although one should prefer the latest models produced in the early 2000s as they are most likely to have lower mileage on the meter. Later versions are also more powerful than the initial ones and have incredible power to weight ratio.

Also read: Is BMW E46 Reliable? (Things you Need to Know)

Which BMW Z3 Engines are the Most and Least Reliable?

BMW Z3s with the M44 engines are the most reliable ones. Whereas, the M54 engine is considered the least reliable among all the engines available in Z3.

BMW Z3 inline-four engine is virtually trouble-free and offers the best mileage per gallon. The only problem with the Z3 is that it only generates 140 hp.

M54 inline-six engine is the most powerful one and generates 225 hp. It is also the most expensive to maintain to replace. One should go with M52 if he wants a balance of both power and reliability.

Is BMW Z3 Safe?

BMW Z3 lags in safety when compared with today’s safety standards of the automotive industry. Although it does have both front airbags and the later versions include electronic stability control (ESC) system.

Unfortunately, neither National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has a safety rating for BMW Z3 on their website. So, nothing can be said for sure, but BMW Z3 does offer many safety features and has a good build quality.

How Much Does BMW Z3 Cost to Maintain?

The cost of maintaining a BMW Z3 will depend upon its age, mileage, and condition. If you drive 12,000 miles in a year, the true cost of owning a BME Z3 is estimated to be roughly $500.

A large portion of this money will be spent on fuel due to rising fuel prices. At the current price of $4.32 per gallon, one might expect to spend $2200 on petrol every year. Whereas the repair and replacement costs are expected to be around $1400.

One can expect to pay $600 for the insurance cost and $200 in the name of taxes and fees. Do note that the BMW Z3 is expected to appreciate in the coming years, therefore the depreciation price is not considered here.

What is a Good Mileage for the BMW Z3?

It will be difficult to get a BMW Z3 with low mileage, as the most recent Z3 on the market will be at least 20 years old. Therefore, anything less than 100k miles will be considered good mileage.

If you can find a used BMW Z3 with less than 80k miles, that would be excellent. Lower mileage usually translates to lower maintenance costs, and the likelihood of a significant repair is related to the mileage. The mileage factor can be ignored to some extent if the car was maintained properly.

Also read: Is BMW E39 Reliable? (What to Expect)

What Parts Should You Replace and After How Many Miles?

Below is the list of parts which you should replace after a said number of miles:

  • Battery: BMW Z3 battery is replaced after 3 to 5 years, and this replacement is likely to cost $260.
  • Timing Belt: BMW Z3 timing belt needs replacement after every 60k to 100k miles. It costs anywhere from $400 to $900.
  • Tires: Tires should be replaced every 30k to 40k miles, and a single BMW Z3 tire costs $150 to $300. While premium tires are more expensive, costing upwards of $500.
  • Spark Plug: The BMW Z3’s spark plugs should be replaced after every 40k miles. The replacement cost for this operation will be around $150.
  • Oil Filter: It is replaced after every 5k miles. The oil filter of the BMW Z3 is usually priced under $10.

Are BMW Z3 Parts Widely Available?

Yes, BMW Z3 parts are extensively available in the market. Aftermarket and used parts of Z3 are also very common and you can save a lot of money by utilizing these options.

Also read: 3 Best BMWs for an Amazing Drifting

How to Buy a Reliable BMW Z3?

Look for the below-mentioned things while buying a used BMWZ3. But before any of that, verify the necessary documentation of the Z3 that you are going to purchase.

  • Condition of the Body: Rust and corrosion are common problems with cars like BMW Z3 that were manufactured in the 90s. Carefully inspect the whole frame and body of the car and try to have the inspection done in a broad daylight.
  • Engine: Look for any oil leakage around the engine and check all the necessary fluids of the car. Examine the essential engine parts for their authenticity and condition. Then cold start the engine and listen for any unusual noise or vibration.
  • Service History: Check the complete service history of the car. By looking at the service history, you can know how well the car was maintained. You should crosscheck the mileage shown on the meter with the service history and physical condition of the car.
  • Test Drive: Finally, go for a test drive and pay attention to how the BMW Z3 performs on the road. Never buy a Z3 that produces a banging or clipping sound, since it indicates a significant engine problem. While driving, inspect the gears, brakes, and suspension, as well as the power steering system, clutch, and transmission for proper operation.

The BMW Z3 – Pros and Cons

BMW Z3 is a fun car to drive, while the sleek design and stylish looks add additional appeal to the car. Another main benefit of owning a BMW Z3 is its better-than-average fuel efficiency. The maintenance costs of Z3 are relatively low, and its parts are also readily available.

The main disadvantage is the high probability of having a major repair, as the latest Z3 will be at least 20 years old. The car can only accommodate two passengers, and there are also some concerns surrounding the safety of the BMW Z3.