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Here Are The BMW X3 Years To Avoid

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We've narrowed down the five BMW X3 years to avoid, so you can steer clear of unreliable models and purchase a solid vehicle.

Silver BMW X3
BMW X3 by EurovisionNim — CC-BY-SA-4.0

The BMW X3 has come a long way since the introduction of its first-generation lineup. Nowadays, the BMW X3 is widely known as the “luxury SUV that can,” which is more impressive considering it’s competing against the likes of the Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class and Audi Q5.

BMW may be a world-class brand, but they don’t always make reliable vehicles, including the BMW X3. According to RepairPal, the X3 lineup has a reliability rating of 2.5 out of 5.0. If you have your eye on a used BMW X3, do yourself a favor and keep reading.

For today’s car comparison guide, we take a quick look at the BMW X3 years to avoid, plus the ones worth your time and money.


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Which BMW X3 Years to Avoid?

Below is a quick list of the BMW X3 years you should avoid due to reliability and safety issues.

  • 2007 BMW X3
  • 2013 BMW X3
  • 2014 BMW X3
  • 2017 BMW X3
  • 2019 BMW X3

2007 BMW X3

Let’s be honest; the 2007 BMW X3 isn’t an unreliable SUV, far from it. However, it does have several significant issues that many car shoppers would rather avoid, such as oil leakages, coolant loss, and engine mount bolt failure.

According to, oil leaks are the number one issue that plagues the 2007 X3. Unlike any other BMW, the X3 engine is vulnerable to leaks. This issue can be due to cracked or deteriorating valve cover gaskets. Older and high mileage cars (i.e., 2007 X3) are especially prone to leaking engine oil.

Coolant leak is another issue prevalent with the 2007 X3. Many owners have reported that their X3 frequently overheats or notices coolant on the floor. The culprits are likely the radiator and coolant expansion tank. These severe issues make 2007 one of the worst BMW X3 years to avoid.

2013 BMW X3

If you’re going to avoid one model year, make it the 2013 BMW X3. According to Car Complaints, the 2013 X3 is the worst year for the X3 lineup.

With over 300 NHTSA complaints, the 2013 X3 has several problems, and expensive ones at that. Perhaps the most prominent issue for this model is the broken timing chain guide. X3 timing chains are made of metal, while the guides are made of plastic. Because guides are made of plastic, they’re prone to breaking, which can throw off the engine timing.

Some owners have reported that their X3 engine stalls or quits while driving. Fortunately, the solution is to fix the timing chain bracket, and it’s relatively inexpensive. 

2014 BMW X3

For the following year, BMW ironed out some of the kinks with the X3. However, the 2014 X3 has plenty of issues on its own.

According to Consumer Reports, the 2014 BMW X3 has an overall reliability rating of 1 out of 5 and a customer satisfaction score of 2 out of 5. Most of the owner’s complaints are directed towards body hardware. One user complained about stress cracks on the glass, while others experienced creaks and squeaks coming from the sunroof.

In addition, the 2014 X3 suffered from minor engine problems. Several owners reported that the engine computer would send false warning signals from modules like low oil or check engine light.


Are BMWs reliable? And the truth is there’s no easy answer. You’ll find examples of notoriously problematic BMWs that have a trouble-free background. At the same time, it’s not hard to come across supposedly reliable BMW models that are headache-inducing nightmares.

2017 BMW X3

The 2017 BMW X3 is another year you should purchase as a used vehicle. With an overall reliability rating of 2 out of 5 as per Consumer Reports, this model isn’t as problematic but has issues.

Perhaps the most severe issue is brake failure. A user from Car Complaints related how the X3’s brake system failed on her as she drove down an exit ramp. Moreover, based on Consumer Reports’ data, the X3 brake system received a dismal 1 out of 5 reliability rating.

Another trouble spot of the 2017 X3 is the climate system. Numerous reports pointed to a faulty air conditioning or thermostat that usually happens during longer trips.

2019 BMW X3

Things have gotten a lot better for the X3 line by its third generation. We’re hesitant to include the 2019 X3 since its issues are few and far between. However, it does have a relatively low-reliability rating from Consumer Reports.

Most problems that affect the 2019 X3 are miscellaneous. For example, many owners complained about the in-car electronics, particularly how spotty the Apple CarPlay function is when pairing devices. Additionally, some users claimed that the car’s software updates caused more problems than fixing them.

Users have also reported that the X3 tailgate opens on its own, even while the vehicle is parked and locked.


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Which BMW X3 Years are Safe to Buy Used?

Now that we’ve wrapped up the BMW X3 years to avoid let’s pivot to the ones you can safely purchase.

2005 BMW X3

If you’re going for older X3 models, the 2005 iteration is a good place to start your search. Although an older car, it handles like a dream and has an excellent shifting response. Most of the problems surrounding this model are from exterior accessories and windows/windshields - not a dealbreaker for most people.

2016 BMW X3

The second-generation BMW X3 had a rather turbulent run in the market. One of the better 2nd-gen models in terms of reliability is the 2016 BMW X3. It’s pretty similar to the 2015 model, but it fared better regarding reliability. Consumer Reports also agrees by giving it a 4 out of 5 overall reliability score.

2021 BMW X3

The 2021 BMW X3 has been receiving high reliability scores across the board. J.D. Powers gave the 2021 X3 a Quality & Reliability score of 81 out of 100. Moreover, Consumer Reports also gave the SUV an overall reliability rating of 4 out of 5.

There were some complaints about build quality, most specifically about the tailgate opening on its own, but nothing else major worth mentioning.

Common BMW X3 Problems

As a luxury brand, the BMW X3 isn’t exactly a pinnacle of reliability. However, as outlined above, the X3 is undoubtedly more reliable than you might expect, except for the models to avoid. Here are the most common issues with the BMW X3:

  • Broken timing chain guide: The timing chain guide of the X3 is made of plastic, while the timing chain is metal. The plastic guides of the X3 make them prone to premature wear and failure. With a broken timing chain guide, the engine’s timing is compromised and may lead to engine failure.
  • Sunroof leaks and rattles: The issue was prevalent with the first-gen X3. According to the complaints, the sunroof would create an irritating sound whenever the sunroof is opened. In some cases, the sunroof leaked and required replacement.
  • Oil leaks: Frustrated X3 owners complained about the BMW engine’s tendency to leak oil. BMW engines have several plastic components that may develop cracks, resulting in leaks. This is quite common with X3s above 80k mileage.
  • Overheating engine: The X3s reportedly had a problematic radiator and cooling expansion tank due to a faulty thermostat or poor housing. This resulted in coolant leaks which may lead to an overheated engine.
  • Faulty window regulator: This failure in the window regulator caused the X3 windows to not properly open or close. While it’s not the most prevalent issue, this was rather annoying for owners because the repairs have cost them hundreds of dollars, not including labor. Apparently, the door seals may collect dirt and dust over time, causing the doors to become less tight and secure, resulting in excessive vibrations and noise.
  • Steering problems: X3 owners with the sports steering feature have reported that their vehicle was harder to control and steering felt heavy. As such, these steering issues are major safety hazards and increase the risk of accidents. In some cases, the steering system became too loose and caused the vehicle to drift and harder to control.
  • Problematic EGR systems: Fairly common in second-gen X3s with diesel engines. If you have the base level N47 four-cylinder engine, know that it can  be a nightmare to maintain. Specifically, the EGR system of both diesel variants can malfunction and return the exhaust gasses into the intake. Symptoms include rough idling, decreased performance, fuel smell, increased fuel consumption, and stalling while idling.

FAQs: BMW X3 Years to Avoid

Q: Which BMW X3 years should I avoid?

A: Based on reported issues and reliability concerns, you should avoid the BMW X3 models from the years 2007, 2013, 2014, 2017, and 2019. Avoiding these model years may help you avoid expensive repairs in the future.

Q: Why is the 2013 BMW X3 considered the worst year?

A: The 2013 BMW X3 has been reported to have many complaints, especially regarding the timing chain guide. The plastic timing chain guides are susceptible to breaking, disturbing the engine timing, and resulting in engine stalls or sudden stops while driving.

Q: What are common problems across BMW X3 models?

A: Common issues include broken timing chain guides, sunroof leaks, rattles, oil leaks, overheating engines due to coolant system problems, faulty window regulators, steering problems, problematic EGR systems in diesel engines, and more.

Q: Which BMW X3 years are considered safe to buy used?

A: The BMW X3 models from the years 2005, 2016, and 2021 are considered safer choices for used purchases. These models have received higher reliability scores and have fewer reported issues compared to the years advised to avoid.

Are BMW X3s typically reliable?

The BMW X3 is a compact crossover that’s sporty and nimble. But great driving characteristics don’t outweigh the problems that some X3 model years are known for. In fact, some years, like the 2013 X3, are best left in someone else’s driveway.

How much does a used BMW X3 typically cost?

Although BMW’s have a reputation for losing value, the irregular used car market and increased demand for compact crossovers has led to higher prices for the X3. Model year has the greatest influence on costs for a used X3. According to CoPilot Price Pulse, a 2010 BMW X3 has an average selling price of $9,294, while a 2020 X3 goes for $37,068.

Is the BMW X3 a good car to purchase?

With careful research, the X3 can be a great buy. But you’ll want to learn more about BMW reliability so you can make an informed purchasing decision. Some model years are worthwhile, while others are more likely to drain your bank account and cause headaches. 

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