What’s a High Mileage for a BMW? The Truth…

The Bavarian automaker is one of the top brands in the world, loved by owners and enthusiasts alike. BMW has some iconic vehicles in its portfolio, and its cars are known for luxury and endurance.

Although German engineering is unparalleled, there comes a point in the time and age of a BMW when problems start to pop up. Let’s have a look at some of the common problems with high mileage BMWs, what are the most and least reliable BMWs with high mileage, and is it worth buying one with too many miles on the odometer?

What’s a High Mileage for a BMW?

BMW cars can serve you quite well and for long, but if you’re wondering what is high mileage for a BMW, consider 150,000 miles as a thumb rule. These are built using top-quality materials and reliability in mind, but with time and wear on the tough terrains, problems start to appear after 150k miles and owners should become vigilant about maintenance.

Proper maintenance and sticking to the service schedule ensures that your BMW stays fit, but it still drives on the roads and is bound to undergo wear & damage.

A BMW wouldn’t have any major problem until after 100k miles or so if maintained properly and driven with care. But once the odometer says 150,000 miles, some problems are expected to knock at your door and can become costly to fix.

Also read: Mercedes vs. BMW- Which is Cheaper to Maintain?

What Problems Can Arise with High Mileage BMWs?

Although BMW cars have a solid build quality and overall very robust vehicles, they start to show some problems with the passage of time and miles. Some of the common problems with high mileage BMWs include cooling system problems, faulty oil filter gasket, electronic system problems, issues with fuel pump, and VANOS (variable valve timing issues).

All the mentioned problems appear after your BMW has served you for quite some miles and years, and can even be avoided if meticulously maintained. Let’s take a detailed look at these problems and the cost of repairs.

1- Coolant System problems

Around 100,000 miles, BMWs can have a problem with the coolant system. Particularly a faulty water pump that fails to optimally circulate coolant through the engine, hence causing frequent overheats and radiator damage. Coolant system issues are a costly fix and can be avoided with timely servicing of the water pump assembly.

2- Faulty Oil Filter Gasket

If you frequently notice oil dripping down or a pond of dark fluid after moving your car, the probability is that the oil filter gasket has gone faulty, causing engine oil leakage. The gasket connecting the oil filter to the engine becomes weak over time, somewhat after 120,000 miles, and this can cause substantial damage to the engine due to excessive overheating and low oil levels.

3- Electronic System Faults

A BMW driven more than 100,000 miles is also prone to various electronic system faults. This happens due to continuous usage and wear over time, which leads to damage. The most common electrical faults include a blown fuse box which renders the majority of systems useless, such as cluster gauges and tail lights. Other problems include faulty windows and air-con.

4- Faulty Fuel Pump

The high-pressure fuel pump usually goes bad in a high mileage BMW over time. Owners have reported sluggish acceleration, low pick-up power, and even the engine going completely unresponsive at times due to low fuel supply into the cylinders. This problem usually appears after 130,000 miles and requires a costly fix.

5- VANOS issues

The variable valve timing system in a BMW engine provides great performance with efficiency but is prone to VANOS system problems, aka “VANOS Rattle”. This occurs due to issues with the VANOS seal and valves, and excessive oil incurrence due to frequently moving parts. It is also a very costly problem to get rid of but can be avoided with meticulous maintenance.

The cost to fix the problems with high mileage BMW cars

1Coolant system problems$700
2Faulty oil gasket$600-800
3Electronic system faults$1,000-1,200
4Faulty fuel pump$800
5VANOS issues$750

Do High Mileage BMWs Rust?

Although any car can get rusty due to wear and damage, BMWs are among those top-quality vehicles that do not rust that easily. It would take a lot of wear, damage, and environmental distress to turn a BMW rusty, which can be avoided by keeping the metal parts protected.

Unless left to rot in a damp environment or used roughly in the areas where salt is used to get rid of snow, a BMW would never get rusty for years and hundreds of thousands of miles.

To ensure your BMW remains rust-free, make sure you wax it regularly and get ceramic coated for added protection, Furthermore, get the undercarriage area coated and dry it properly after a wash or rain.

Also read: Is it Hard to Steal a BMW? Which One is the Easiest?

What are the Most and Least Reliable BMWs with High Mileage?

If you’re looking for a used BMW with too many miles on the odometer, the most reliable ones could be the 2008 BMW E90 3 series, 2002 BMW E46 3 series, and 2009 BMW 5 Series. Whereas, some of the BMWs you should avoid at all costs include the 2014 BMW X5, 1998 BMW E46 M3, and 2015 BMW X3.

Let’s discuss why these cars are dependable and why the others should be avoided.

Most Reliable BMWs with High Mileage

1- 2008 BMW E90 3 series

Regarded as one of the most popular and successful BMW models ever, the 2008 E90 was the peak of the 3 series sedan. It packed a lot of punch with loads of tech and driver assistance features, top safety equipment, and a pleasure to drive. Also, the E90 had the least amount of complaints or manufacturing faults, which makes it a perfect pick for a BMW with high mileage.

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2- 2002 BMW E46 3 series

Another reliable BMW with high mileage on the list is the 2002 E46 series. Loaded with basic entertainment and safety tech, tons of driving pleasure, and compact styling, the 2002 E46 is still one of the most popular BMWs to get in the used market. Although the E46 M3 was plagued with faults and problems, the E46 328i still remains one of the most dependable choices in the used BMW market.

3- 2009 BMW 5 series

This mid-size luxury BMW sedan peaked in 2009, the year which was best for BMW in sales. 5 series offer top luxury, safety, and driver convenience with its exquisite features. It is also very reliable as it would easily last 200,000 miles without needing an engine rebuild, and very few manufacturing faults over the years.

Least Reliable BMWs with High Mileage

1- 2014 BMW X5

The most legendary BMW SUV is also the most problematic one. Reported to have problems with the engine, fuel pump, and turbocharger,2014 X5 is the least reliable BMW with high mileage and it is better to avoid all costs.

2- 1998 BMW E46 M3

Although an icon and one of the most popular BMW M models ever, the E46 M3 is also very unreliable. Problems list included coolant and radiator problems, blown turbochargers and engine seals, electronic malfunctions, and transmission issues. No matter how cheap, the repair costs are still gonna be astronomical and too much of a hassle.

3- 2015 BMW X3

The younger brother of X5, the BMW X3 is also on the unreliability list, all credits to the engine and transmission problems. Over the years, these issues cost too much to fix and X3 is not a worthy option to choose as a used car.

How Many Miles Can a BMW Last?

If driven with care, and maintained regularly at scheduled intervals, a BMW can easily last 250,000 miles before requiring powertrain replacement or major repairs. BMW cars are robust and solid in build quality, so they last quite long if looked after properly.

BMW manufactures its cars with the highest standards of production and uses premium materials and parts.

If a BMW is kept with care, engine oil and filters are changed on time, transmission and suspension are serviced regularly, and it doesn’t get involved in a major accident, it can easily survive 250,000 miles of tough terrains and harsh environments.

Also read: 3 Best BMWs for the Money (+Cost Calculation)

How to Make Your High-Mileage BMW Last Long?

Follow these steps if you want to ensure that your high mileage BMW last long;

  1. While buying a high mileage BMW, make sure you ask for a CARFAX report and maintenance history.
  2. Change all the lubricants, including engine and transmission oil on time.
  3. Switch the engine oil grade as per the factory’s recommendation.
  4. Regularly change the filters, like oil, air, cabin, and fuel filter for enhanced performance.
  5. Use an engine flush while changing the old oil and coat the engine parts with Liqui Moly Cera Tec for longevity.
  6. Get the suspension parts replaced.
  7. Get the timing belt adjusted and the assembly overhauled.
  8. Change the fuse box and replace the faulty electronics.
  9. Get your high mileage BMW ceramic coated for rust repulsion and long-lasting shine.

Is It Worth Buying a BMW with High Mileage?

If the car had been kept by a single owner, there’s no history of a major accident, and a proper maintenance logbook is available, there’s no harm in buying a high mileage BMW, within a good price bracket. At an economical price, it provides a luxurious ownership experience and a pleasurable drive.

If you’re in the market for a used BMW, always ask for the maintenance history and the CARFAX report if the car has too many miles on it.

Buying a BMW with high mileage can be a worthwhile experience if the overall condition is good, there’s no rust on the metal parts, all the seals are intact and there had been no major accident. BMWs are fun to drive, but at the same time costly to maintain and repair, particularly with high mileage.