Which BMW X3 Years to Avoid and Why? (Explained)

In a conversation about luxury SUVs, BMW X3 is bound to take the spotlight. Four years after the introduction of the X5, BMW X3 started its journey in 2003.

With a slightly more compact design than X5, the X3 cars were designed to compare with the Audi Q’s, Mercedes G’s, Range Rovers and other luxury mid-size vehicles.

It is to be noted that after the success of the first generation, sales began to decline for X3 due to reliability issues. In this regard, BMW X3 years to avoid are 2007, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2019.

Read this article to the end to find out about the problems during BMW X3’s worst years and the best years you can consider.

BMW X3 Years to Avoid (List of Years)

While BMW x3 has some of its best years, there have been years with critical safety issues and required recalls.

From fuel pressure valve breaking to brake failures, BMW X3 exhibited some concerning problems in some of its model years.

Regarding these issues, the BMW X3 model years that should be avoided are:

  • 2007 BMW X3
  • 2012 BMW X3
  • 2013 BMW X3
  • 2014 BMW X3
  • 2019 BMW X3

Worst Year of BMW X3

The 2013 BMW X3 was the worst model year of its line-up. Ill-famed due to its engine problems, the X3 would cost owners much at every repair. The problems would start once the car is at 83,000 miles. The repair cost goes up to $3,400.

With severe issues like broken timing chain guide and drive train problems, it is undeniably the one year of BMW x3 that should be avoided completely. With high NHTSA complaints of engine issues, the model has marked its notorious reputation.

What Makes these BMW X3 Years Worth Avoiding?

2007 BMW X3 Problems:

The major issue with the 2007 BMW x3 model is oil leakage. The cause for such leaks can be pinned down to valve cover damages. Another cause can be the decay of valve cover gaskets.

The oil leak problem increases maintenance costs as the issue results in excessive consumption. Coolant leak is another troubling issue.

Leaks occur from different areas like hoses or valves. Severe engine issues like mount bolt failing were experienced by users as well.

Reported complaints with bothersome speed control are also of concern. The engine issues occur typically around 65,000 miles. Four fires were recorded due to such issues.

2012 BMW X3 Problems:

The 2012 model poses a safety concern with the issue of unintended sudden acceleration.

Furthermore, loss of air pressure in the tires is one of the worst issues with the vehicle.

The vehicle is also reported to stall unexpectedly which can completely ruin a user’s experience.

Camshaft issues were present in the X3 2012 model as well like faulty timing. Another issue observed was the detachment of the camshaft in high-speed drives.

There are some problems with the steering as well. From user reports, the steering becomes sticky in warm or hot weather compromising the driver’s control of the vehicle.

The stiffness and stickiness of the steering wheel account for a frustrating driving experience

2013 BMW X3 Problems:

A broken timing chain guide is a vital problem for 2013 X3. The timing chain is made of metal but the guides are made of plastic making the guides susceptible to breaking. This can hamper engine timing.

2013 X3 is stated as the worst year of x3 from having the most complaints reported in total. NHTSA logged 134 complaints about the engine system, 54 about the drivetrain and 18 regarding the braking system.

The complaints include engine stalling or stopping to work completely. Error messages about low oil pressure, car losing power while driving, and engine not being able to start back up after dying are some major issues brought up in user reviews.

Moreover, issues like brakes becoming unresponsive while driving and brake repairs not being covered under an extended warranty were also brought up as inconveniences by users.

2014 BMW X3 Problems:

With a massive letdown of the 2013 X3, the 2014 X3 could bounce back up regarding severe issues but still was plagued with several problems of its own. It is logged under worst years mainly due to its overall reliability rating of 1/5 and customer satisfaction score of 2/5 from Customer Reports.

Logged complaints include engine stopping, noise, low oil pressure and exploding sunroof. Body hardware was particularly inconvenient in this model. This includes stress cracks on glass and paint coming off.

Electrical problems like false warning signals regarding low oil or check engine light are also a talked-about issue of this model.

2019 BMW X3 Problems:

2019 X3 does not have as much issues as the previously mentioned models and might not be a total deal-breaker. NHTSA complaints of the vehicle are focused mainly on miscellaneous and body or paint problems.

Some bothersome issues like tailgate opening on its own even when the vehicle is parked and locked, problems arising from software updates, comfort access only working intermittently with door refusing to unlock on command were notable of this model.

Sudden acceleration and A/C not working are also problems of the model reported by users.

Which BMW X3 Years are Safe to Buy?

To talk about the most reliable years of the BMW X3, the first generation is counted as one of the best generations.

The 2005 model is very reliable for purchase. In its time it was a huge hit winning the “Best Sports Utility Vehicle” for Canadian Car of the year. With its excellent shifting response and no issue with the transmission, the car offers one of the best experiences with a reliable engine and low maintenance.

The 2006 and 2008 models are also reliable as the 2005 model with great user reviews. 2006 BMW X3 offers excellent shifting and handling.

It also has impressive safety and reliability ratings. 2008 models are popular for excellent body styling and the best competitive performance.

For second-generation models, 2016 is a safe option to buy. The 2016 model was more fine-tuned than 2015, earning more trust with excellent reliability ratings like 4/5 from Consumer Reports.

2021 is another safe model to buy with minor complaints. Having a Quality & Reliability score of 81 out of 100 from J.D. Powers, the car is becoming increasingly popular with an extremely powerful engine, comfy ride and splendid fuel economy.


While purchasing a BMW X3, an overall guide is to go for the first-gen or third-gen cars as the second-gen had a bumpy history at its start.

The main problems arising frequently from this car are engine problems but several other issues like failure of timing chain guide, engine oil leaks, sunroof leak and rattle, broken regulators, expansion tank leaks, and overheating are to be looked out for.

It is safe to purchase models with lesser complaints and high-reliability ratings. As for the reliable models of BMW x3, the car is bound to give you an excellent ride and superb handling experience living up to the name of its brand

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