As a former BMW owner, I have firsthand experience with their inconsistent reliability. Although I only had one, it was enough for me to be cautious about owning another in the future. At 70,000 miles, the VANOS system on my E46 M3 needed replacement, the SMG pump was on its way out, and I was hoping and praying my rear subframe wouldn’t crack and crumble. These issues could be chalked up to neglect, and it’s based on my personal sample size of one, but these issues are well documented in the forum world and can occur regardless of maintenance diligence.
Forums tend to blow problems out of proportion, so I was not too worried about our brand-new X3 and our promised 20,000 miles. A year is too short to really test a modern car’s reliability. But we try to create some accelerated wear and tear, and unfortunately things are starting to go amiss.
There’s a netted pocket in the cargo area, and the frame cracked in the first two months with us. No one has taken the blame, but you would think something built into the cargo area should be able to take abuse from cargo.
The car has developed a weird creaking, binding noise coming from the front right suspension that’s really apparent when turning to full lock at slow speeds. Imagine the classic squeaky door sound, but in a $68,000 SUV. Not very comforting to hear that noise with just 10,000 miles on the odometer. Road test editor Chris Walton also notes during testing that it “wanders to the right” during 60–0 mph braking. Could this be related? We’ll have to wait for the next visit to the dealership to confirm.
Another concerning issue occurred when I took the car through an automated car wash. While sitting there chatting with a passenger, I noticed water dripping onto my lap. My first thought was I forgot to shut the sunroof, but I quickly found the source: the microphone grille right above my head! That definitely shouldn’t be happening. Not only does it mean whatever electronics or wiring in that vicinity is now wet, I had to head back to the office looking like I peed my pants.
Guess it’s not called the Ultimate Reliability Machine for a reason.
Read more about our long-term 2018 BMW X3 M40i:
- Update 1: The Switcheroo
- Update 2: M Means More
- 2018 BMW X3 M40i: 9 Cool Features on the Sporty Crossover
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