Common Problems with Your BMW

With an incredible fusion of luxury, comfort, handling, reliability, and power, a BMW is a joy to drive. There are only a few other brands that combine these features as well as BMW does and such a combination makes the luxury car brand one of the best in the world.

Unfortunately, even with the advancements of German engineering, BMW models still suffer from certain problems during their lifespan. We have put together common problems with BMW vehicles and the telltale signs to look out for so you can avoid irreparable damage on your precious car.

Water Pump Failure

Instead of using a water pump driven by a serpentine belt, BMW uses an electrical water pump complete with its own electrical motor. Unfortunately, this reinvention that the luxury brand pioneered tends to fail. While some BMW owners have recorded it breaking down at about 145, 000 miles, it can break down as early as 60, 000 miles.

The BMW Engine Light is Sensitive

The engine light is on and every time it’s on, your heart skips a beat. This is because you’re not sure if it’s signaling you to take a look at a huge problem with your BMW or a minor one.

There are seven common reasons why it’s on. Take a look at our list below:

  1. The gas cap is lost or loose.

Your BMW’s check engine light will turn on if it believes that your car’s Evaporative Emissions System is suffering from a leak.

While this is not really a huge problem since most vehicles have flapper valves in the filling system, you might still notice the smell of gas if such a problem occurs.

  1. The oxygen sensor is broken.

The oxygen sensor monitors free oxygen levels in the exhaust to ensure that the ratio of gasoline and air is just right. If the oxygen sensor is broken, you will likely see your BMW’s check engine light turn on. Apart from that, you will notice a considerable gas mileage decrease and increased emissions. If left unchecked, it can cause damage to your catalytic converter.

  1. Catalytic Converter

A non-working catalytic converter can affect gas mileage and exhilaration. Placed between the exhaust muffler and the engine, it is subject to damage caused by debris and other external factors. Telltale signs include reduced performance and rattling noises.

  1. The head gasket is blown.

If the check engine light turns on because of a blown head gasket, your car will also experience all or any of the following:

  • an overheated engine
  • oil and coolant mixing together
  • low coolant levels
  • white smoke coming from the exhaust
  1. The mass airflow sensor is not working properly.

This part of the car monitors the right amount of fuel going into the engine against the air that is going in. If it is not working properly, your BMW’s check engine light will come on. Common telltale signs that the mass airflow sensor is not working include running lean under load, rich at idle, rough idles, and decrease in fuel efficiency.

  1. Faulty spark plugs and wires

Spark plugs and wires initiate combustion in the engine. If they start to fail, your BMW will experience a jolt in acceleration. This specific problem will be explained in detail below since it is also a common BMW problem on its own apart from being one of the common reasons that drives the check engine light to turn on.

  1. Faulty fuel injector

While this part of the car usually has a long lifespan, it can still fail.

Interior Wear

One of the most common problems for BMW models is that their window controls tend to wear faster than other parts of the car.

The Airbag Light is Constantly On

If your airbag light is always on, the clock spring or the weight sensors on the seats might not be working properly. To find out if this is what is causing the airbag light to light up, it usually just comes on for a few seconds while you’re starting the car and turns off afterwards.

If it remains on, there is a chance that the airbags will not deploy when needed.

BMW owners will also see a warning on their display that there is something wrong with the restraint system.

The Windows Won’t Move

Certain BMW models have this window regulator problem where the windows either fail to move up and down or move rather slow. Models affected include the BMW 3-series E46.

The door locks won’t work.

Sometimes some BMW models have faulty door locks. If you suspect that your luxury car is having this problem, walk 10 feet away from it and press the button that locks and unlocks the doors. You can check all the doors after that.

Cabin Noises

While this doesn’t happen to relatively new BMW cars, older models can experience a few cabin noises. This can include squeaking seats and plastic interiors.

Rattling in the Variable Nockenwellen Steuerung (VANOS)

This engine noise comes from the engine when you’re revving up. A common problem for BMWs, this noise typically goes away if you lower your RPM. However, as the damage progresses, the noise will get worse.

Bad LCD, Instrument Cluster Pixels

BMWs often have a problem with the display. It can be caused by a faulty LCD or failing ribbons that are connected to the car’s circuit board.

One of the signs to look out for is a pulsating odometer screen or one that just turns itself off.

iDrive Keeps Restarting

Your BMW is equipped with an incredible sound system but this incredible feature can disappear once the iDrive fails or keeps rebooting. This can be fixed with a software but you will still need to go to a reliable auto repair shop to ensure that this indeed is the solution to the problem.

Ignition Coils

If the engine starts to vibrate and the the catalytic converter is turning red, there is a possibility that the ignition coils are not working.

Coolant Thermostat Problem

If you suspect that your thermostats are not working the way they should, pay close attention to your temperature gauge. If you don’t have one, it is best to call us immediately because this can cause your engine to overheat.

Hydraulic lifter noises

The brand uses oil-filled hydraulic lifters that can fail prematurely because of the quality of oil used. Short drives can also contribute to its demise since the engine does not have enough time to reach its normal operating temperature.

One of the signs of this problem is hearing a loud clank upon start up or when the car is on idle.

Electrical Problems

Your BMW can have problems with the turn signal, your CCC iDrive, the cooling fan, and even your wipers.

Your blower motor is not doing its job.

THe blower motor blows air into the car. If your climate control buttons are working properly, chances are, you’ve got a defective blower fan resistor.

Diagnostics, Repairs, and Replacements

When these problems arise, it is best to book an appointment with a team of well-trained mechanics.

Our experienced ASE Certified mechanics can diagnose what is going on to see what needs to be fixed or replaced.


This article is written by a hired writer and not by a certified BMW Technician. This article is informational and not intended to help you diagnose your vehicles problems.