BMWs are known for their quality and luxury rides. BMW is also the 32nd most admired company worldwide and 2nd among automotive makers, which is solid proof that the brand doesn’t compromise quality when offering products that impress customers. But as nice as BMWs are, are they expensive to maintain?
Generally, BMWs are expensive to maintain because they have many electronic components that can break and need repairs. They also require skilled mechanics to service them, who usually charge more. BMWs operate on premium gasoline and have specialized parts, which drives the upkeep costs up further.
Read on for more details on the costs of owning BMWs, the common problems their owners experience, and maintenance tips to keep these cars running smoothly.
On average, BMW owners spend $1,780 on maintenance annually.
However, it’s important to remember that your car will last longer with routine maintenance, and you’ll be less stressed about an unexpected breakdown in the future.
According to YourMechanic.com, here are the average costs for different types of repairs and services on a 2019 BMW 330i:
- Change oil and filter: $177 – $182
- Brake pads replacement (front and rear): $585 – $601
- Air filter replacement: $150
Are BMWs Expensive to Insure?
BMWs are expensive to insure. The average annual insurance cost of a BMW is $4,049. These vehicles are expensive to insure because they cost more and have a higher repair value.
However, insuring your BMW comes with the benefit of getting compensated if it gets stolen or damaged in an accident.
What Is the Cheapest BMW to Maintain?
The cheapest BMW to maintain is the BMW 318i. On average, it requires $286 annually to maintain since it features a three-cylinder engine that is durable yet not too expensive to fix. Also, the fuel efficiency is excellent at 22-26 mpg in the city and 30-36 on the highway.
Here are some BMW models that are relatively cheap to maintain:
- BMW 320i: $316 annual average
- BMW 330i: $431 annual average
Caveat: These are just average estimates. The maintenance costs also depend on other factors, such as the driving environment, driving habits, and the amount of care the owner provides their car. Besides, these costs may vary by state (in this case, I used the zipcode for Arizona to get the estimates).
What Is the Most Expensive BMW to Maintain?
The most expensive BMW to maintain is the BMW 328xi. According to YourMechanic, it costs $952 annually to maintain this model. It features a six-cylinder engine that provides more power and requires more maintenance due to more moving parts.
As I mentioned, BMWs are not typically the cheapest to maintain, but with regular maintenance, they can save you from the higher costs of extensive breakdowns in the future.
Most BMWs start to develop problems after covering 80,000 – 100,000 miles. At that mileage, their engines develop issues like overheating, which is expensive to repair.
Additional common problems in BMWs include oil leaks from turbos and damaged or dirty air filters that can cause poor performance.
If your BMW breaks down, it’s best to call your mechanic so that they can assess the situation and recommend the most appropriate solution. Also, it’s crucial to determine if the vehicle’s warranty covers the issue.
Pro Tip: If your car breaks down, here are some steps you should follow:
- Turn on the hazard lights and slow down.
- Get out of harm’s way by pulling off the road.
- Put the emergency brake on.
- Make yourself and your car visible by setting up flares or triangles.
After ensuring you are safe, call for help.
How Long Does It Take BMWs to Get Repaired?
It takes one to two days to get a BMW repaired on average. However, this duration can increase if the repairs are complicated or some of the required parts are not immediately available. In some cases, the mechanic might have to wait for the components before fixing the vehicle.
Nonetheless, it’s best to inform your mechanic in advance so that you don’t end up waiting two days for your car to be repaired.
Although BMWs are typically expensive to maintain, it’s best to avoid some of the high costs of repairing seriously damaged parts. Notably, BMW owners should pay close attention to minor issues or warning signs, such as check engine lights and address them immediately.
For a hassle-free experience owning a BMW, experts recommend that you follow these guidelines:
1. Avoid Driving on Unpaved Roads
Avoid driving on unpaved roads as much as possible, or at least avoid doing so without a spare tire for added protection.
Look for tires that are more durable than standard all-season or summer tires. They may last longer before they start showing signs of wear, reducing replacement costs.
2. Change the Oil Every 15,000 Miles
Experts recommend that drivers change their vehicle’s engine oil every 15,000 miles (25,000 km).
This is when viscosity starts dropping significantly and seals begin deteriorating.
With regular changes, an engine can have up to three times as many service intervals between each required maintenance visit.
3. Replace the Radiator Hoses Every 60,000 Miles
Scrutinize the rubber hoses after every 60,000 mi (95,000 km) or four years (whichever comes first).
Rubber hoses typically need replacing no later than the recommended duration. If these hoses are damaged, they can cause severe problems with your BMW’s coolant system, causing the engine to overheat.
4. Replace the Brake Pads Every 30,000 Miles
Replace brake pads after 30,000 miles (48,000 km) or when they show signs of wear. This prevents damage to your car’s discs and drums, compromising your ride safety.
According to Bridgestone Tires, you should do this every 30,000-35,000 miles (48,000-56,000 km) if you drive in demanding conditions, such as urban areas. Alternatively, replace them every 80,000 miles (128,000 km) if you drive in less demanding areas, like highway driving in light traffic.
5. Keep the Battery Well-Maintained
Ensure that your battery is reasonably maintained: It’s crucial to keep a healthy and functioning battery for your BMW’s electric equipment to work properly.
This includes keeping the charge level at 12.0 – 13.0 volts, topping up with distilled water when necessary, and ensuring all connections are tight.
Besides, you can minimize corrosion build up on terminals by spraying them periodically with an anti-corrosive agent.
In this case, I recommend this WD40 Multi-Use Spray from Amazon.com. It prevents corrosion and drives out moisture, protecting electrical components from moisture-induced short-circuits.
6. Change the Cabin Filters Annually
Experts recommend changing your car’s cabin air filters at least once per year. However, it would be best to do that more frequently if you live in a dusty area.
When the cabin filter is dirty, airflow to and from the engine will decrease, which can cause severe problems with gas mileage due to frictional losses.
7. Pay Attention to Warning Lights
Keep an eye out for warning lights in dashboards.
If they come on, address the issues immediately. This is because they are most likely connected to the car’s engine or transmission and can cause significant damage when ignored.
For more helpful BMW maintenance tips, I recommend that you read your car’s manual.
Also, here’s an 11-minute video that provides essential maintenance tips to keep your vehicle on the road:
8. Get Assistance From an Import Car Specialist
If you notice your BMW having troubles, it might be time to get professional help from an import auto specialist.
Not all mechanics are trained to service foreign and import vehicles, but if you take your car to specialists, they may be able to diagnose the issues quicker and order the appropriate parts needed.
9. Don’t Skip Scheduled Maintenance
Since BMWs require filter and oil changes every few thousand miles, your mechanic may leave you notes after each service to remind you when you should schedule your next visit. It’s important not to skip scheduled maintenance visits because the cars can quickly begin to deteriorate, in quality and performance, if they don’t receive the care they need within the mile range.
The frequency of these recommended visits for service will depend on how often you drive your car, how old it is, the model, and how many miles it currently has on it.
Are Other Import Cars Also Expensive to Maintain?
Other luxury import car brands, such as Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and Lexus, are also expensive to maintain. Similar to BMW, these car brands require specialized parts and maintenance to keep them running long-term.
Let’s take a look at some of the rival brands’ comparable vehicles.
Mercedes-Benz products that rival BMW include the C-Class, the CLS, and the GLA Crossover.
The C-Class is the equivalent to the BMW 3 Series; the CLS rivals the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupé, while the GLA competes with BMW X models.
The C-Class and CLS offer excellent handling and agility, while the GLA Crossover SUV is known for its versatility.
An Audi vehicle is another worthwhile BMW alternative. Some of the notable Audi offerings include the A-Series, the Q series, and the RS.
The A-Series includes sedans that rival the 3 Series, while the Q Series rivals the BMW X models.
Similarly, the RS model offers impressive performance that matches the BMW M Series. In terms of handling capabilities, it’s worth noting that both brands are on par in quality.
The ES model can be best described as a luxury car with excellent interior quality.
Aside from that, these vehicles also have good handling and are easy for drivers of any skill level to handle. They’re comparable with the 5 Series sedan since they both have high performance and sporty handling.
BMWs are durable – they typically require few repairs and go through fewer changes during production. However, suppose you’ve had previous accidents or mechanical issues with your BMW in the past. In that case, it could mean that your car is more likely to break down quicker than others.
BMWs are worth buying. Although they are expensive to maintain, they are generally durable, offer comfortable handling, and have a high resale value. However, it’s best to avoid them if you’re in the market for a budget car.
Alternatively, if you have the money to spend on a luxury car like this, then it’s worth buying one and getting the most out of your investment.
BMWs can be unreliable if they’re older or have been damaged before. Their components, such as coolant systems, windows, and heater cores, can break down easily as their mileage increases, and even more so if they’re neglected.
Because of this, owners may spend more replacing damaged parts to keep the car running long-term.
Some issues also require a qualified and experienced technician that specializes in import and foreign cars. These specialists can be difficult to come by outside of dealership service centers, meaning repairs can be carried out by a non-specialized mechanic.
The result is that you could be waiting weeks or months to get your vehicle back – especially if it needs a part that can’t be found in stock or the parts have to be ordered.
Key Takeaway: BMW drivers often demand top of the line mechanical work, so waiting times for BMWs are considerably longer than with other autos.
The cost of maintenance for a BMW is high, but it all depends on the driver. If you take care of your car and follow the user manual and the tips in this article, you can save some money in the long run.
Despite some of these drawbacks, BMWs are worthy investments because of the return you’ll get from them. With regular maintenance and care, they’re easy to run and also offer a high resale value, should you decide you want to sell the vehicle in the future.