BMW Quality & Reliability

My girlfriend has a 2000 BMW 323i. She bought it when it was 1 year old. I have owned Toyotas for the past 25 years and I am shocked by the poor quality and unreliability of her Beamer. For example, the door panel speakers have fallen out of the doors; the right rear wheel bearings went out at 6 years old; the leather seats were cracked at 6 years old; coolant hoses dry rotted at 6 years; AC blower motor went out, the interior cover of the sun roof will not stay on it’s track; all 4 window regulators had to be replaced; one window motor has been replaced; control arm bushings replaced twice; replaced engine belts twice; power steering unit replaced; right front control arm replaced; #3 coil replaced; DME/computer replaced; and this is just for starters. Is this typical of all BMW’s? Is this car a lemon? How long after purchase can you make a claim according to lemon laws? I live in Colorado. Thanks, Dwight

Sounds like a lot of problems, but it is over 10 years. She should fix it and sell it if she is unhappy with the car.

BMW = Bring Money With you

This BMW sounds much more troublesome than usual.

I believe they have an average to above average repair record with well above repair/maintenance prices.

I don’t know about your state , but in NY the lemon law is just for new cars and I can’t imagine any recourse under any circumstances for an 11 year old car. The BMW’s are high performance cars and will not have the reliability of a good “grocery getter” .

BMW 323i is hardly a high performance car. I had it as a lease company car (trouble free) and while an absolute pleasure to drive not a performance car.

Car and Driver rates the current M3 as “Best Car in The World” How many of your issues were covered under warranty?

Usually, you must make an appointment weeks in advance to get your BeeMer into a dealers service department. With a Toyota, you can usually bring it in tomorrow. There is a REASON for that and it doesn’t cost $65,000…(M3)

There are several factors that may have contributed to these problems with this BMW. If the car sits out in the hot sun, this could account for the cracks in the leather seats and the problems with the interior sun roof cover. Coolant hoses aren’t a major expense. I don’t know how many miles are on this BMW, but wheel bearings and blower motors have to be replaced on many cars.

On the other hand, you didn’t report any engine or transmission problems. I wouldn’t classify this car as a lemon.

My experience in longevity for an autombile is my 1978 Oldsmobile that I purchased new. When the car was 23 years old, the left door started dragging and was hard to close. I took the car to a body shop and the manager said that the hinge needed to be replaced. He said that I might be able to get the hinge pin from the dealer, but I would probably have to go to a salvage yard. I started with the dealer. When I drove in and explained the problem to the service writer, I was directed to the body shop. The body shop manager came out and looked at the situation and she informed me that the part was not available. I told her that I was very disappointed. I said that when I bought the car from the agency that they would always have parts available to repair the car. She asked how many miles I had on the car and I told her about 220,000. She said that nobody really expected me to drive the car 23 years and over 200,000 miles but she would see what could be done. A few minutes later, a great big technician from the body shop appeared with a long wrench, a big steel pin and a sledge hammer. He loosened the bolts on the hinge, put the pin against the hinge and pounded on the pin with the sledge hammer. He then tightened the bolts and the door worked perfectly and still does. When I asked about the charge he laughed and said, “No charge. We guarantee these babies for 25 years or 250,000 miles”. Now that’s a warranty. I’ll bet your girl friend’s BMW doesn’t have that kind of warranty. I still wouldn’t call it a lemon, however.

Dealer service with BMW means a loaner given. Toyota dealer sit in a chair or pay for a loaner thru higher shop rates or enjoy that seat and old magazines/coffee.

I own three 3-series BMWs and I frequent BMW forums, so I am fairly familiar with the problems these cars have, and your girlfriend’s experience is quite unusual. She has had virtually every known problem with that model, (most owners have one or two) and several unknown ones.

Door regulators and sunroofs are known problems with e46 BMWs. There is a cheap and effective fix for the door regulators, but if you went to the dealer, you got replacements ($$). I can envision that a window motor might burn up if the regulator failed and it kept trying to close the window.

Never heard of door speakers coming loose on any BMW unless they caught an elbow.

Leather in BMWs is actually painted rather than dyed. It is fairly resistant to sunlight and harsh cleaners. What did she use to clean the leather?

BMW did get a lot of bad coils on the early e46. Many of them failed under warrantee.

Heater motor resistors sometimes fail, and the resistors in the early e46s were a poor design. Replacement resistors are a new design. Heater motors very rarely fail.

DMEs rarely fail, unless the engine is washed with a pressure sprayer and the DME cavity is filled with water. That kills a lot of them.

Two sets of belts in 10 years - not too bad.

Two sets of control arm bushings and a control arm replaced? Wow. What kinds of roads does she drive on? I have a 3-series e36 with 230k miles on it with all original bushings.

“Best Car in the World” has a very narrow meanining with Car and Driver. They judge a vehicle (new) by brief driving impressions only. They also get the vehicle free for their use and are wined and dined by the company.

Buying a car has some similarities with choosing a spouse. THe BMW in this case would be comparable to a hot and exciting “one night stand”, with later expensive upkeep and unreliable behavior.

I have long ago stopped listening to car magazine reporters, except for the road tests to compare driving qualities.

If you added all factors pertaining to car ownership, a Lexus would likely qualify for the title “Best Car in the World”.

This one sounds like it truely was a lemon. My son’s BMWs didn’t have the reliability of a Toyota, but they were no where near as bad as you’re describing.

Lemon laws vary by state, but I can say with confidence that yours won’t cover a vehicle purchased nine years ago as a 1 year old used vehicle.